New production injects comedy into traditional Khmer drama

New production injects comedy into traditional Khmer drama

A restyling of a Cambodian legend has been produced to cater for a modern audience, keeping alive the traditional art form of 'lkoun basac'

A NEW comedy taking style and costumes from the traditional form of Cambodian drama known as lkoun basac will go on show at the Olympic Stadium, amid concern over the aging art form's longevity.

Kraithong Krapeur Chharavann, a Cambodian legend about two friends studying magic, has been rewritten with contemporary language and comic stylings to attract modern-day audiences. In the story, one of the magic students accidentally transforms himself into a crocodile after ignoring his master's instructions.

Ouk Socheat, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said at a press conference Tuesday that only the style and costumes of lkoun basac have been retained for the production.

"The performers are not trained in lkoun basac," he said. "They consist of contemporary actors, boxers, singers and comedians, so it is very hard for them."

Ouk Socheat claimed that not many people are interested in lkoun basac anymore, but this new production is a good chance to show the disappearing art form.

Pol Vibo, vice president of Cambodian Television Network, the company responsible for the show's production, said they thought carefully about the impact of this production on lkoun basac, but admitted that if the comedic element was omitted, "nobody would want to watch it".

Yok Chinda, producer of Kraithong Krapeur Chharavann,  said the show's aim was to increase public awareness of the lkoun basac drama style in an attempt to continue its practice in public drama performances.

"I hope the mix of boxers, actors and karaoke singers will get support from the public. So far we have sold 4,000 tickets, and we plan to sell a further 20,000 tickets," she said. "Now I know that Cambodian people support our Khmer shows more than foreigner shows."

Performances of Kraithong Krapeur Chharavann start on Wednesday at Olympic Stadium, from 7pm to 9:30 pm.