Strange, twisted creatures made of metal and cloth swooped and danced across the stage at Phare Ponleu Selpak this month… Our students are taking a puppet workshop!
For two weeks, a group of performing arts students worked with master puppeteer, Leutmany Insisiengmay, from Laos. Mr. Insisiengmay has worked in drama and puppetry for over 30 years and has performed at many international festivals.
From the beginning of the puppet workshop, students were encouraged to look around them to find what they needed for their creations. “I didn’t bring anything with me,” says Mr. Insisiengmay. “Everything the students need is out there, they just have to look in a different way.”
So, using wood, coconuts, old brooms, broken appliances and pieces of scrap metal, the students formed their own visions. Some were cute, tiny and animal-like while others were larger than their creators, and needed several people to operate them.
The workshops were co-funded by the European Union and UNESCO/IFD as part of a suite of activities that aim to build the capacities of Cambodian performing artists. The skills learnt by the students will continue to be developed, so that we can start to use puppets in our professional circus and theatre shows. To support this goal, a theatre teacher from Phare is will soon attend a training class on puppetry in Kampot, organized by Cambodian Living Arts.