In a celebration of Cambodia's rich cultural heritage, the highly anticipated Ayai show, "Ayai 5G: Top Teacher Super Student," is set to captivate modern audiences with a unique twist on the traditional Khmer improv performance. 

Renowned Ayai icon Prum Manh, revered for his mastery of the form, will join forces with his talented student Neang SouSou to present an unforgettable production that promises to enchant and inspire.

Ayai, one of the four traditional forms of Khmer musical art, is renowned for its captivating blend of musical improvisation and comedy.

This latest iteration of the Ayai show takes a remarkable and rare female-centered twist, offering a fresh perspective on this poetic art form. 

Neang SouSou's inclusion in the performance promises to bring a unique and compelling dynamic to the stage, highlighting the richness and diversity of modern Khmer cultural expression.

Neang SouSou, real name Lim Solin, is a seasoned social activist with over 20 years of international development experience. She has embarked on a remarkable journey as an Ayai singer and playwright. 

Thanks to her love for the form, Solin has dedicated the past three years to studying it.

"Ayai is a literary comedy with a high level of poetry and syllables," she said in a promotional video. "According to my research, Ayai is unique to Cambodia.”

Prum Manh, who began his career during the Khmer Republic in 1970, was one of the few performing artists to survive the purges of the Khmer Rouge. It was thanks to his talents as a barber that he was able to disguise his true calling, and go on to revise the art after the fall of the regime.

Their collaboration adds a layer of intergenerational exchange and innovation, creating a witty female-centred perspective, in a seamless blend of tradition and contemporary expression.

According to the organisers, as the tradition has passed from the teacher to the student, Ayai is now upgraded to “5G”, transforming the art form so it can transcend cultures and continue to inspire all of us to "express ourselves in ways that are entertaining, educational, and enlightening”.

“This performance promises to be an unmissable opportunity to witness the convergence of tradition and innovation, as Prum Manh and Neang SouSou breathe new life into the 300-year-old art form of Ayai,” they added.

SouSou explained that the first episode of Ayai 5G, named “Top Teacher Super Student”, represents her and Manh’s first steps as they work to promote and preserve the form.

She firmly believes that the best way to preserve the unique 17th-century Khmer musical comedy repartee singing is by utilising modern technology.

Her aim is to make this highly intellectual and educational comedy accessible and inclusive for everyone via a first-of-its-kind Ayai digital platform. 

With a passion for empowering Cambodian youth, her dream is to ensure that they will embrace and enjoy the spoken art form of expression.

“Top Teacher Super Student” is scheduled to take place at the Royal University of Fine Arts on Friday, May 31, at 7.30pm. For ticketing and further information, please visit Neang SouSou's Facebook page.