Phare is an unforgettable experience that brings together theater, music, dance, acrobatics, and the circus to tell uniquely Cambodian stories. More than simply a circus or an entertaining show of acrobatics, the way that the performance unfolds can be surprising for first-time spectators. The stories are all distinctly Cambodian, based on either folk stories or modern dramas that are set in a post-Khmer Rouge era Cambodia.

Many of the shows are inspired by the real-life experiences of the Phare artists. Sokha deals with themes such as post-war trauma and the rehabilitative powers of art, while Khmer Metal takes the audience on a wild journey through the grungy world of Phnom Penh’s rock scene. Other shows like Sokrias (Eclipse)  and Preu (Chills) are based on traditional Cambodian folk tales but are reinterpreted in a playful and modern way. Almost all of Phare’s shows, however, deal with serious issues like the war, poverty, discrimination, bullying, and post-traumatic stress for the many Cambodians who survived life under the Khmer Rouge.

Even in modern Cambodia, and especially in the rural villages, one in every five Cambodians still lives in poverty. In addition to producing high-quality shows, Phare is on a social mission to help bring the country’s many underprivileged children and their families above the poverty line by providing them with free professional arts training. All of the performers at Phare are graduates from Phare Ponleu Salpak, an NGO art school based in Battambang.

Phare Ponleu Salpak (PPSA) provides free training to children in Battambang, Cambodia, with many of their students going on to perform at Phare in Siem Reap. The school in Battambang was first founded in 1994 by nine young Cambodian men after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. Taking the art training that they learned at a refugee camp, they returned home and offered free drawing classes to children and the local community. Soon after, they opened their own art school, providing vocational arts training in the visual arts, and later expanding to performing arts.

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