An American playwright who focuses on Cambodia is set to take part in a symposium with other Cambodian artists that looks at the relationship between the arts and peace building.
Catherine Filloux, a French-Algerian American who wrote the popular musical “Where Elephants Weep,” told VOA Khmer recently that Cambodian theatre artists Chhon Sina and Ieng Sithul will also travel to New York for the Theatre and Peace Building in Cambodia Symposium at Fordham University.
The symposium will be held Sept. 20 and Sept. 21. Following that, the artists will take part in a conference held by Theater Without Borders, called Acting Together on the World Stage: A Conference on Theatre and Peace Building in Conflict Zones, from Sept. 23 to Sept. 26.
On Sept. 20, she said, “We are going to be having an open rehearsal of Chhon Sina’s new play...‘Phka Champei,’ about a sex worker and victim of domestic violence who lives in a slum in Phnom Penh.”
The following day, “there will be a panel in which will be discussed issues of theatre and peace building, and we will do an excerpt from Chhon Sina’s play, and we will also have Ieng Sithul perform,” she said.
Filloux has written four plays about Cambodia, in addition to “Where Elephants Weep,” which proved widely popular.
Her plays include “Eyes of the Heart, Photographs from S-21,” about a woman who suffers from psychosomatic blindness after the Khmer Rouge regime; “Silence of God,” about Pol Pot; and “The US Complicity in What Happened in Cambodia.”
The second conference will discuss how current Cambodian artists worked following the Khmer Rouge “and have used art as a way to express human rights and also as a way to heal,” Filloux said.
Other participants come from countries like Peru and Ireland, as well as Native Americans from the US. All will have a chance to discuss parallels in their rebuilding efforts.
Rithisal Kang, a Cambodian Fulbright scholar in the US, will also attend.
“We will discuss with the guidance of peace-building scholars and practitioners a range of questions about the relationship between the arts and conflict,” he told VOA Khmer. “I believe we will learn and gain understanding of the nature of conflict, causes of violence and the meaning of peace.”