Parisian street mime came to Phnom Penh for the Water Festival in the form of
Laurent Decol who studied under the world's greatest mime artist, Marcel Marceau.
Decol, who claims to have been fascinated by mime since the moment he was born, has
now passed on his skills to eight young Cambodian actors and circus performers from
the National Theater and the School of Fine Arts.
"I can perform anywhere," he declared, "Inside or outside. In a plane,
on a boat, on the water, in a prison. I'm a saltimbanque."
The ebullient French actor has toured 80 countries, traveling continually with his
wife and child for the past six years.
"Cambodians are so open," he told the Post. "They have remarkable
patience and dignity. We can go over something ten times and they never lose patience."
But Decol found Khmers to be perplexing students who generally lacked emotion but
had no trouble learning technique.
"I work on the opposite concept to the Cambodians." He explained. "The
most urgent thing is to express something through emotions."
"We needed a teacher like this," said Meas Saman, 19, who found the training
fascinating. "Mime is such a complement to the rest of my career. I am so happy."
"I've never done anything like this before," enthused Hou Sokthery, a 15-year-old
student, one of only two female performers.
Mime falls between theater, circus and dance and, on the esplanade of the Khmer-Vietnam
friendship monument, they combined all three.
The juggler was nervous and the two female acrobats wobbled slightly through their
supple contortions but the cheers and jeers of a large crowd carried them along.
The Centre Culturelle Francaise funded Decol's visit