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Bassac theatre competition showcases ancient culture

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First place in the bassac theatre contest was awarded to a team from Kep province. Culture Ministry

Bassac theatre competition showcases ancient culture

The 2022 National Bassac Theatre Festival, held under the theme “Culture of Peace” successfully came to an end at the Department of Performing Arts Theatre on the evening of October 4.

The Lakhon bassac team from Kep province finished in first place and won a gold medal with 10 million riel in prize money and a philanthropic budget of another 3 million riel. A team from Kampong Cham province came in second, claiming silver – with a silver medal, 7 million riel in cash and 2 million riel to invest in future works. A Phnom Penh team placed third and went home with 4 million riel and a philanthropic budget of 1 million riel.

Two individual performers each claimed 3 million riel each in prize money and another 1 million riel to add to their budgets. The two artistes were from Kandal and Banteay Meanchey Provinces.

Ming Kosny, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts secretary of state and representative of Phoeung Sakona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, attending the awarding ceremony.

Kosny offered her sincere congratulations to all the winners of the festival. She encouraged the non-award-winning artists and asked them to continue their efforts to contribute to the sustainable development of the performing arts sector.

“As we all appreciate, the Bassac Theater Festival is not just a competition, but a place to gather, learn and share experiences and knowledge,” she said.

“Therefore, the main goal of organising the festival is to provide opportunities to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each group’s composition, directing, set design and acting, in order to strengthen their skills and promote the field of performing arts so it can compete on the international stage,” she added.

Chhieng Chhordapheak, deputy director of the Department of Performing Arts of the ministry, told The Post that ten participating groups submitted videos to qualify for the top five, from which the winners were chosen.

“The top five groups were from Kandal, Kampong Cham, Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey and Kep. They competed over two days. On October 3, three groups performed their traditional plays, with the final two showcasing their skills on the morning of October 4,” he said.

He said the original ten submissions had come from eight cities and provinces –Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kep, Kampong Speu, Tbong Khmum, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang and Banteay Meanchey.

The video competition was fierce, with each performance subjected to a detailed review and a high level evaluation by a panel of five expert judges.

Sam Sam Ang, Lpon Nol, Nop Sambath, Chhouk Chandara and Uy Lattavan gave accurate, fair and impartial scores to all the contestants, before selecting the final five teams to perform in the finals.

Sam Ang, chairman of the judges, offered his feedback to the ministry: “I have some suggestions. First, I would like the ministry to organise local level lakhon bassac workshops in each capital and province. Second, I would like to see advanced training courses run in those communities which already have troupes.”

At the opening day of the festival, culture minister Sakona said that as leader of the ministry, she was very pleased to see that so many performance groups had submitted entries.

“I consider the 2022 National Bassac Theater Festival not only a platform to showcase the talents and skills of each team but also a excellent chance for local artists and outsiders to get the opportunity to meet and exchange new experiences with each other,” she added.

“I believe that this is an important platform to educate the public about the many forms of uniquely Khmer art,” she continued. “The holding of festivals and cultural events promotes the arts and provides opportunities for young men and women to participate in the protection of their national cultural heritage.”

She concluded that the protection of Cambodia cultural heritage is the duty of every Cambodian.

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