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Giant puppets invade Siem Reap

The Giant Puppet Project team has been feverishly making final lighting, rigging and paper-maché-eyeball-painting touches all this week at Wat Damnak.

Over the last few weeks, kids from local NGOs participated in art workshops taught by Giant Puppet Project staff where they made the various parts for the puppets. Now the staff is putting everything together in preparation for the big parade Saturday night in Siem Reap.

“Right now we’re working on a lot of the animatronics, so wings can flap and eyeballs can turn,” said an overworked Jig Cochrane, art director for the project. “We’ll relax when the parade is finished.”

Every year the project explores a traditional Khmer character. This year the Hindu man-bird-god Garuda was chosen, and this will be represented by a big white puppet with intricate gold Khmer motif adornments.

Artistic direction this year is spearheaded by Jig Cochrane, a UK arts troupe called Pif Paf, project manager Savann Oun and a few students from Phare Ponleu Selpak art school in Battambang.

About 400 children from 12 NGOs participated in making the puppets, and project director Stuart Cochlin estimates that a few thousand people will show up to watch the parade.

“We’ve done advertising in local Khmer newspapers, on the radio and on cable TV,” said Cochlin.

Jig Cochrane confidently declares, “The skill level this year will be the best it’s been. The animatronics will be better, and we’re giving the carnival a more Cambodian face.”

The parade will leave at 7pm from the Old Market area near Warehouse Bar, snake through Siem Reap along the river and end at the park across from the Royal Residence, where the carnival will take place.

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