Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) is a social center and art school in Battambang. I was lucky to see ” The Adventure ” , one of the show of the circus. I wanted to know more about the life of the Circus Performers in PPS and what the circus brings them in their life. Makara, a talented artist, has graciously allowed me to ask him some questions:
1) Hello! What’s your name? How old are you?
My name is Makara. I`m 23 years old.
2) How long are you playing in the circus of Battambang? What is your main speciality in the circus?
I`ve been playing in the circus of Battambang for 4years. And I`ve been training for 5 years. (Note: Because of his talent, that`s why he take short time in training for the performance, but not all the students like him.)
3) How many hours are you working per day? Are you going to school too? Can you narrate me a typical day in the circus.
I train every weekday from 8-11am, and 2-5pm, and the performance is depend on the circus schedule that require each group to work.
- I don`t go to school anymore as I finish high school for 3 years now.
- A typical day at the circus is that we have 2 hours to train every morning and afternoon. The first half hour, we do warm up, and the rest we train with our techniques. For me, I get a support from PPS, so I can have lunch in the association. My house is in Chamka Samrong village which is a bit far from PPS and I walk to school. Normally, if we will perform tomorrow, today we need to rehearsal ourselves with the story that we will perform and the music also in order to be together with the music. And on the performed day, we need to train with our techniques before the show starts.
4) How have you found the Phareps circus? Is there a selection to work in the circus?
How to found the PPS circus: There was a group of teachers here (Social Workers) go to the community and announce about the extra class in PPS for free. Then my mum sent me to study here. I walk to school on the dirt road behind PPS because it`s nearer from my house. At first I come here to study at Child Development Center during my free time from school. I train with the dancing class about 4 years and I know almost all the dancing too. I and my friend were waiting to see the new school of dancing class as we don`t have a real class for dancing.
Later on, all of my friend stop studying here, and I also stop too. Then, I see other children are training in the circus school, and I also interested on it too, especially there was one group performed abroad, so I ask the teachers there to join the class, and the teacher also allows me to join it too. At that time, I was in grade 5, so I decided to change from my previous primary school, Pothivong Primary School, to study at PPS public school because it`s easy for me to ask permission from school if there is a performance at the same time with the class hours.
- The selection to work at the circus: Normally, during the training, we always join group, the group that can perform is the one that work well with a good story. Before I was in Five Styles group but in 2012, it was separated into two groups- Chill and Adventure. For me, before I can perform, I train only three months. Then the teacher thinks that I have talent with art and he asks me to train with the clown. After three months, I join the performance.
5) Can you become a circus performer professional and a teacher after your formation?
I cannot say that I can become a professional performer, but I want to be like that. I don`t want to be a teacher here but I and some of my group members want to open a place like PPS in order to teach other children in other area, especially in the rural area, and the border of Khmer- Thai, and Khmer-Vietnam because lots of people haven`t know about the circus yet.
6) I saw the “Adventure” show. What is the story narrated?
The Adventure show is about the life of a boy who lives in domestic violent family. Every day, his mother always plays game, and his father drunk all the time and also use violence in the family. So, he decided to leave home to Phnom Penh. But he knows nothing about Phnom Penh- he just knows the name only. Related to Phnom Penh, this story is about the small markets there. He tries to find the job to work there from place to place.
Move back to his parents, after they lost their child, they stop playing game and drinking and try to find their child back, but they cannot find their child. Finally, the boy comes back home by himself and he lives with his family happily. The moral of this story is to show about Cambodian lives, and educate people to avoid domestic violence, gambling, alcohol in order to develop their family, and also the society.
7) I really liked the costumes too! Who chooses the costumes and how?
Related to the costumes, they are chosen by the teacher, the group members, and our clothes designers (Sister Heang and Leap as they work at the theater, so they can suggest good costumes for our performance). So, it`s depend on the teacher, the group members, the designers and the story that we will perform in order to match the dressing and situation together.
8) The music was so funny too! What is the name of the group? Where can we find and listen the music? CD?
The musicians are in Adventure group. (Normally, each group has their own music band. All the musicians are the students from PPS music school). I don`t think you can find it or buy it as we haven`t record it into CD. You can only hear it at the same time you see our performance. (The instruments that are used for the performance are Tro, Drum, Skor (drum), Roneat, and Khoem. and there are 3 musicians.)
9) Can you tell me your projects in a near future? What’s your biggest dream?
In the future, I want to open a place just like Phare where the children can learn all kinds of art like circus, visual art, dance, and so on.
- My biggest dream is I want to be a professional performer, and travel to different place around the world. I want other people know me and Cambodia as well.
10) What the Phareps circus brings you in your life?
I think PharePS brings a good life for me, because it helps me to know the outside world, art, and also other countries. Moreover, it teaches me to build good communication with other people through art. Also PharePS help me in building my capacity too. Recently, I just know that I`m from the artist family as my grandfather was a musician and also play in the theatre, and my grandmother was an artist in the comedy and theatre. I think my life is good, even I`m not reach or I have everything, at least I`m better that other people. The other feel proud of me and they are happy when they see me, and I`m also happy too at that time, but in fact not really. By the way, I never think that I`m the best, I always think that I still need to learn more from other.
- Support from PPS: Actually PPS sponsor to 90 children. Before they are living in the association, but because of the new policy from the government, we have to foster care instead of keeping them in the association.
- Social Worker: They are the one who works directly with the community and choose the children into each project too. They need to communicate with the village chief for each family`s information to find out that which family really needs help from us. Then they need to do the family assessment and follow up. All the child who are in the project have join the public school curriculum as our main goal is to make the children going to school. So, the social workers have to do follow up with the children study- whether they come to school every day or not, and how do they learn?
- Child Development Centre: it is the informal education as we teach the small children as kindergarten class. As some children have to take care of their small younger brother or sister at home, it`s hard for them to come to school, so they can keep their younger brother or sister here, and join the class. This department also gives such extra class to the slow learners at the public school. The teacher here, teach them more what they have learnt from school. Now, our new kindergarten classes just built and we will move all the small children to study there. Moreover, this department also provides the dancing class to the children also. We have three kinds of dancing here- Khmer traditional dancing, Pop and Classical Dancing.
- PPS Public School: This school takes place in our association but it`s owned by the government. It`s good for the children too because they can go to the art class any time that they are free from school.