Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Burnt Theatre redux

Lead actor Than Nan Doeun and the author after the screening of The Burnt Theatre
The Meta House opened up their February program of Cambodia-related films, music and exhibitions with Rithy Panh's 90-minute docu-drama The Burnt Theatre earlier tonight. On hand for the after-film Q&A was the film's leading player, Khmer actor Than Nan Doeun, who gave the audience a flavour of the behind the scenes work that went into the film whilst diplomatically sidestepping the choppy waters of a few questions about the Cambodia's government's current views on the arts. Doeun is a well-known face to Khmer audiences for his on-screen movie roles and also stepped behind the camera to act as assistant director on Rithy Panh's well-acclaimed S-21 film, though first and foremost he's an actor. And if his performance in Burnt Theatre is anything to go by, a damned good one at that. Alongwith fellow actor Hoeun Ieng, they injected lots of humour into an otherwise sorry tale of how a group of actors live, rehearse and attempt to maintain their dignity and identity in the burnt-out shell of the country's national theatre. There's no happy ending in the film and according to Doeun, there's not one in sight in real life as yet, but he lives in hope. Below are some scenes from the film, courtesy of Les Acacias.
There's a heap of Cambodia-related events at the Meta House this month, including the on-going Art of Survival exhibition taking place on the ground floor, whilst linked to that are a series of panel discussions entitled Cambodia After the Khmer Rouge, that will be held on successive Monday's at Pannasastra School from the 4th February til early March. Link: MetaHouse.

A rare visit home for Hoeun Ieng (left) and Than Nan Doeun

The two actors get to grips with their lines in the burnt-out shell of the theatre

Than Nan Doeun hams it up as Cyrano de Bergerac at the beginning of the film

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