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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Elephant agrees to modify scenes in bid to appease Buddhists

Elephant agrees to modify scenes in bid to appease Buddhists

Organisers of first Cambodian rock opera say they will change some

lines of narration after clergy tried to stop the production from

airin.

ORGANISERS of the rock opera Where Elephants Weep have agreed to modify certain scenes that Buddhist clergy find objectionable before it is televised nationally, according to officials involved in the dispute.

The compromise came on Sunday after performance organisers met the Supreme Council of Buddhist Monks, including its leader Non Gnet, said show spokesman Prim Phloeun.

"After some discussion, it was agreed some controversial scenes will be modified," he said, explaining that the biggest sticking-point for the clergy was that the performance change  a line by the narrator from "the monk wants a girl" to "the monk turned into a playboy".

While the cast sent a letter to the Council to apologise for any offense they caused, show organisers also used the meeting to reiterate what they feel is the show's unique value to Khmer culture, he added.

The proposed changes must first be approved by a committee that includes representatives from the government, Buddhist clergy and show directors before it can be televised nationally.

"Now the dispute is finished, and we hope the show will help promote Cambodian culture internationally," he said.  

Mao Ayuth, a secretary of state at the Information Ministry, said the agreement paved the way for the show to debut in Siem Reap.

Elephants is a post-Khmer Rouge take on the Cambodian classic Tom Tiev, telling the story of a Cambodian-American man who becomes a monk in order to find his Cambodian roots with a mix of rock, pop and traditional Khmer tunes.

The dispute over the Broadway musical-style adaptation of the story had sparked a minor culture war.

The Council of Ministers threw its support behind the rock opera, praising it for generating international interest in Cambodia, after Buddhist clergy asked the government to ban the show from being nationally televised due to its allegedly dishonourable presentation of monks.

The government has said it never asked for an apology.

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