Dated on Dec. 14, 2003 from Phnom Penh

/ A big success! Japanese Acting Troupe lands in Phnom Penh /

The very thick clouds looked exactly the same as the ones of the cold summer of last year. We went via Bangkok to Phnom Penh, worrying about the weather. By the time we arrived there, the town, which has very few electric lights, was in darkness. But despite our worry, when the day broke, the sky was bright and clear. And a ten-day visit by the Japanese acting troupe, "MANJUSYAGE" (in English cluster amaryllises), started. The rehabilitated Chenla, is the only fully-fledged theater in Phnom Penh. Yet we couldn't help feeling that it was dim inside when compared to Japanese ones, but in Cambodia it is the best theater ever! For the acting troupe, which always wants the best conditions, the theater might have been a bit below standard. But in the case of the towns of Campot and Batheay, the performance was being given in the open-air theater. What attracted my attention most was that many children were watching the play with incredible interest.
I learned many things from those children. For example, a drunken man, who would make Japanese audiences laugh, is not so funny here because drinking has been a big social problem. Children were shouting at the comedian very seriously, "Don't be drunk! Don't drink anymore!" And of course the scenario was changed on the spot, making it; the drink-loving father regretted what he did and apologized to the children. This kind of play bears a lot of responsibility for education here.
Children were frightened by a devil mask and screamed at the scene (from the famous shrine's event in Japan) of performers in dragon's costumes dancing, but were still watching it with lots of curiosity. Looking at those children, I felt that they were growing in a very healthy way.
It was the first time for ASAC staff to prepare for this kind of theatrical performance. I suppose they went to a lot of trouble but I also think that they learned a lot.
I would like to thank the following people very much; the head of the troupe, Mr. Fujinaka, and his members for giving such wonderful performances; the troupe manager, Mr. Kikuchi, for your cooperation and involvement in the preparation; the ASAC member of the Preparation Committee, Mr. Okamura, who spent two months in Cambodia preparing for this ; and of course Mr. Sakakibara, who coordinates the Phnom Penh office, for all his hard work.

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