Led by Master Nong Chak
L’khoan Bassac (Bassac Opera) is a traditional Khmer form of theater that uses song and is among the most popular of all Cambodia theater forms. It is strongly influenced by Hy (Chines Opera) and Kai Loeung (Vietnamese theater), which is evident from not only its scenery, costumes and make up but also in the extremely physical and almost acrobatic acting techniques.
MASTER NONG CHAK, b. 1947
Nong Chak was a member of the bassac folk opera company led by CLA Founder Arn Chorn-Pond’s father before 1975. A skilled singer and actor, he performs dramatic and humorous parts and teaches a class in Banteay Meanchey, near the Thai Border.
CHAPEI DANG WENG
By Master Kong Nai and Suon SAN
The Chapei Dang Weng is an instrument that is played in both the Areak and Apea Pipea (wedding) orchestras. Additionally, the Chapei is also played on its own as an accompaniment to poetry, narrated stories, vocal duets of an argumentative style and riddle telling (a special feature of the instrument which has allowed its popularity to continue form early times up to the present day.)
MASTER KONG NAI, b. 1944
Sometimes called “The Ray Charles of Cambodia”, he was blinded by smallpox at age four. He plays the chapei DANG WENG, a long neck guitar, played both for traditional songs, and with improvised, satirical rhyming verse. Know to most Cambodian’s through frequent television performances and for his wit and raspy voice, Kong Nai has performed on four continents. His young family barely escaped execution by the Khmer Rouge, but eventually he fathered 11 children and has 33 grandchildren.
MASTER SUON SAN, b. 1950
A virtuoso of the “Chapei Dang Weng”, renowned for his improvisational prowess, he embodies the fluid poetry of Chapei. This inventive performer wins audience enthusiasm through his playful, mischievous humor and intimate style of engaging each listener with eye contact. Wounded during the Khmer Rouge period, he lost partial use of one leg and until discovered by CLA lived in poverty and relative obscurity, but is now teaching a new generation and enchanting both live and television audiences.
Also related: Robam Saen Phum
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