“SEE YOU YESTERDAY” MEETS THE FUTURE: Cambodian cast leads workshops for 800 student teachers

(PHOTO: “See You Yesterday” cast members lead a workshop with students at the Teacher Training Center in Siem Reap, April 2018.)

This past March and April, Global Arts Corps re-joined the cast of “See You Yesterday” to tour three major cultural hubs in Cambodia and conduct workshops at the regional teacher training centers, the colleges where all of the country’s future educators receive their training.

For decades, the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge was excluded from Cambodia’s national schoolbooks. Survivors of the regime were often too traumatized or ashamed to speak about their experiences openly, and younger generations didn’t feel safe enough to ask their burning questions about what had happened. 

“See You Yesterday” was created to break a silence.

During 19 weeks of development and rehearsal spread out over a 5-year period, the cast created a theatre production using their spectacular circus skills to explore their parents’ and grandparents’ memories of a genocide they had never lived. In the process, they discovered powerful and simple ways of creating understanding and empathy between themselves and their elders. After touring “See You Yesterday” to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center for a festival and then performing for 18,000 people in the Kigeme Congolese Refugee camp, this group now felt ready to share their insights with their country’s future teachers back at home.

They performed for diverse audiences in outdoor, free, public performances in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Battambang to over 4,000 people. In these audiences were a total of over 800 young Cambodian teachers in training.

On the days following each of these performances, they shared with these teachers what it felt like to live in the shoes of their elders; to imagine their lives out of the broken, inherited fragments of stories and rumors that floated through the silence. They talked about what it felt to start asking questions for the first time. They shared their feelings about how it was frightening at first… and how they needed to learn to trust their own feelings and not run away from uncomfortable truths. They demonstrated some of the empathy and trust exercises they found they needed to perform as a community of actors. They talked about learning how to let their own personal humor and courage and compassion enter into the pain of the stories they were revealing. They told how hard it was to rehearse things they didn’t believe in, only to realize that once they rehearsed something, they could understand it.

A big point for me, and something that makes this project so special is that the play they saw last night came from all of us, from our real stories. When Michael and his team came to work with us, they came with empty hands, no scripts. During our rehearsals, every one of us had a chance to tell our own stories, and that’s how we created this play. It came from all of us.”
— Sambath, “See You Yesterday” cast member (2018)
“For me, it’s not just a performance or an episode for us to share; it’s a chance for all of us to help each other to really understand the past and what happened. Also, when the students ask us questions, we learn from them… they give us something back. It’s kind of like working really closely together so that we can preserve this history for our own country, and for others as well.
— Heang, “See You Yesterday” cast member (2018)
“I wanted this audience to feel how our parents had felt and be able to share the feelings of anyone else who went through this painful past. […] Among us, we only have nineteen artists to help spread the word and share with others. But these teaching students will reach millions of people in this country, so they can spread the word even better. When the teaching students understand, see, and are eager to learn more, they’ll spread the information to the younger generation so that something like this doesn’t happen again. […] If we can do it, I’d like to perform in every provincial city, all 25 provinces. I’m very greedy!”
— Sinak, “See You Yesterday” cast member (2018)
“From the performance, we could see what Angkar [the Khmer Rouge] was really like. We now understand. The show makes us want to know more about our own history, and that makes us love our country even more.

— Student, National Institute of Education, Phnom Penh (2018)

All of us at Global Arts Corps would like to thank the supporters who have stayed with us throughout the time it took us to reach this point, in particular, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, who gave us confidence as well as support from the earliest stages of this project. We’d also like to thank Khuon Det and everyone at Phare Ponleu Selpak and Phare Performing Social Enterprise for inviting us to collaborate with this extraordinary group of young artists; and the teams at the Documentation Center of Cambodia, Amrita Performing Arts, and Cambodian Living Arts for all of their counsel and support over the last six years.

We would not have been able to create this piece without all of the work that came before it, out of places like Belfast, South Africa, and the Balkans. On this tour, we witnessed 19 young circus performers using theatre-based techniques to teach 800 future teachers how to approach a past their elders could never talk about. Thank you to everyone who has invested in us and stuck with us up to this point. We can now promise you that this is the jumping off point for a larger educational movement, driven by youth teaching other youth. This piece is just a culmination and a result of all the experiments that came before it. Stay tuned.

–The Global Arts Corps Team

“See You Yesterday” on Tour in Cambodia

We very pleased to announce the first Cambodian educational tour of “See You Yesterday,” with performances for student teachers, students, and the general public in three educational centers later this month.
Following each performance in Battambang, Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap, the cast–with support from Global Arts Corps artists from South Africa, Cambodia, Kosovo, and the US–will conduct workshops in the art of exploring one’s past. These workshops will take place the country’s teacher training centers, the institutions where all of Cambodia’s future educators receive their training.
The workshops will be the beginning of what we hope will become an ongoing opportunity for this cast to share their experiences of delving into their own emotions and perceptions to build this production out of the fragmented memories handed down by their elders who experienced them directly. The production itself was created out of these young artists’ exploration into their past, in which they broke down barriers of silence that had existed between generations since the genocide. The goal of this tour is to specifically help student teachers develop curriculum to illuminate and expand the potential of the theatrical arts to foster perceptual change, dialogue and understanding around some of the most difficult subjects in their recent history.
For more information on the tour, and to read the artistic director’s statement, please click here.
Stay tuned for more information on this project in the coming weeks!

United Nations Screenings in Geneva and Vienna


Global Arts Corps is honored to announce that A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake will be presented by the United Nations at two screenings in Geneva and Vienna next week. The details are as follows:

Geneva Screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake

Presented by Ciné-ONU

Tuesday, April 4th, at 6:30pm

Cinéma CINERAMA EMPIRE, rue de Carouge 72-74, Geneva

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Michael and Jacqueline Lessac. Tickets are free of charge, and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, please visit www.unog.ch/cine-onu


Vienna Screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake

Presented by The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna, On the occasion of the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda

Friday, April 7th, 12:30pm

Vienna International Centre, UNIS Cinema Room (G0575)

Opening remarks will be given by Martin Nesirky – Director, United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna, and Michael and Jacqueline Lessac. This screening is by invitation-only. For more information, please contact us at info@globalartscorps.org.

Please stay tuned for updates on these screenings, and the recent pick-up shoot for the new feature documentary on our Cambodian project, Year Zero36.

It felt like a different movie…

A Note from Artistic Director Michael Lessac

Last Thursday at the United Nations headquarters in NYC, the UN Department of Public Information presented a screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake as part of their observance of World Tolerance Day.

Following the screening, Nick Boraine and I joined a post-screening discussion with panelists from South Africa, Rwanda, and Colombia… Nearly 450 audience members attended. The conversation was lively and impassioned.

Watching the film on this occasion—in a room that formerly housed the Security Council and on a day intended to celebrate the fostering of mutual understanding among cultures and peoples—it felt like a totally different movie.

The film felt at once more optimistic, more complex, more relevant, more hopeful and sadder at the same time—its implications for how civil societies fall into division, the power and danger of language and how that language can seed potential for physical violence, how genocide begins at the breakfast table, and how normalizing can quickly tip over into violent conflict. But most importantly, it offers the potential for how people coming out of violence can speak to other people coming out of violence (or on the verge of violence); and see the lies and myths at the heart of a country’s racism and nativism, therefore implicating their own.

I am heartened to now see that this film is reaching out to new audiences at a time when perhaps more than ever we can take hope in the courage of others who have confronted the divides and denial in their own communities and are not afraid of their own empathy.

Plans are now in place to organize additional UN screenings of the film in Brussels, Vienna, and Geneva.

With adequate funding, we will complete our next film coming out of Cambodia in Spring 2017.

I hope you will join us in supporting this effort.

And I will leave you with this photo from Mostar in 2008…

…A city still struggling to reconcile 15 years after the Bosnian War. A famous bridge, once a symbol of peace in the Balkans, bombed during the war… Now reconstructed as a monument to a hopeful future. We were told that audiences from the 3 sides of the divide–Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs–would not sit together in one location. So we performed Truth in Translation on a platform at river’s edge for part of the audience; and projected video of the live performance into the side towers of the bridge, where others could view it simultaneously from different locations.

United Nations Screens Global Arts Corps Documentary Film


 A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake follows a group of diverse South African actors as they tour the war-torn regions of Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia. During their travels, the protagonists meet local communities and try to share with them their own country’s experience with post-conflict reconciliation. As they ignite this dialogue full of raw memories of atrocity and pain, the actors find they must once again confront their homeland’s violent past, and question their own capacity for healing and forgiveness. It also features never-before-heard original music by jazz legend Hugh Masekela.

 The Panel Discussion will feature:

  •  Nick Boraine, South African actor known for HomelandDistrict 9 and Paradise Stop; and Associate Artistic Director of Global Arts Corps.
  •  Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Professor and Research Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  •  Michael Lessac, director and producer of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake; and Artistic Director of Global Arts Corps.
  • Renata Segura, Associate Director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum, Social Science Research Council.
  • Moderated by Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division, UN Department of Public Information.

 The event will take place in Conference Room 4 at the United Nations Headquarters on 17 November, 2016, starting at 6:45 p.m.

 Please RSVP HERE by COB Monday, 14 November, 2016.

Note that all attendees must bring a photo ID.


 Film’s websitehttp://www.asnaketoasnake.com

 This documentary screening is presented by UN Department of Public Information and the Outreach Programme on the Rwanda Genocide.

This programme focuses on learning the lessons of the Rwanda genocide in order to help prevent similar acts in the future, as well as raising awareness of the lasting impact of genocide on the survivors and the challenges that they still face today.


Please note that all guests are asked to bring a photo ID, and the screening will begin promptly at 6:45pm.


Download our Visual Report from Rwanda


Global Arts Corps recently returned from the Rwandan tour of our Cambodian production, See You Yesterday. After our world premiere at the Ubumuntu Arts Festival, we went on to perform in the Kigeme refugee camp for over 15,000 Congolese refugees.

Click on the image above to download our visual report from the tour, with photos from our performances in Kigali and the refugee camp and a selection of responses from our cast and audience members.

From the World Premiere of See You Yesterday in Rwanda

Performance of See You Yesterday from the Kigeme refugee camp

Performance of See You Yesterday from the Kigeme refugee camp

 Dear Friends,

This past week the World Premiere of our Cambodian production See You Yesterday–produced in partnership with Phare Performing Social Enterprise, Phare Ponleu Selpak Association, and Amita Performing Artstook place at the Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali, Rwanda, which brought together companies from over 20 different countries to perform for Rwandan audiences on the grounds of the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

We are writing to you now from the Kigeme refugee camp in southern Rwanda, where our Cambodian cast just performed for the third time, attracting audiences of over 5,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo at each of our 3 performances.

Please stay tuned in the coming weeks for a more complete report on this extraordinary tour. 

– The Global Arts Corps Team

Performance of See You Yesterday from the Kigeme refugee camp

Performance of See You Yesterday from the Kigeme refugee camp

After our final performance of See You Yesterday at the Kigeme refugee camp

After our final performance of See You Yesterday at the Kigeme refugee camp

Global Arts Corps would like to thank the


who have generously supported See You Yesterday throughout the production’s development and whose long-standing committment to this project have made this Rwandan tour possible. 

Announcing the World Premiere of See You Yesterday in Rwanda

Global Arts Corps is honored to announce that we have been invited to present the World Premiere of See You Yesterday at the Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali on July 17th, 2016.

The Festival will bring together companies from 18 different countries around the world–including Syria, Kosovo, Sudan, Iraq, and the North of Ireland (among others)–for 4 days of performances and dialogue on the grounds of the Kigali Genocide Memorial, all dedicated to fostering reconciliation. This year, the participating companies will also include 2 of our cast members from previous productions: Global Arts Corps Associate Artists Thembi Mtshali-Jones (from South Africa) and Vincent Higgins (from the North of Ireland).

Immediately after the festival premiere, the cast of See You Yesterday will travel to the Kigeme refugee camp in Rwanda, where they will play for audiences of over 8,000 Congolese refugees at each performance who have sought shelter from the long and devastating war in their home country. Between the Congolese threatened by decades of violence and its repercussions across generations; Rwandans remembering the 21st anniversary of their own genocide; and these young Cambodian performers who have used their physical skills to build a production from memories handed down to them by their parents and grandparents of a genocidal regime–we have an opportunity on this tour to achieve an amazing milestone in cross-border communication and to share the incredible joy that these Cambodian artists bring in this new work. 

SYY Press Kit Cover


For more information, click the image below to download our press kit.

Please stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information as we prepare for the World Premiere and Rwandan tour of See You Yesterday.


Global Arts Corps would like to thank the


who have generously supported See You Yesterday throughout the production’s development and whose long-standing committment to this project have made this Rwandan tour possible. 

More Screenings on the Horizon and a Note from South Africa

Upcoming U.S. Screenings of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake and Recent Screening at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre

Dear friends,

At the end of September we will screen A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake in Dallas in association with Dallas Faces Race, the Embrey SMU Human Rights Program, the Trans.Lation project, and SMU Meadows School of the Arts. Following the Dallas screening, the film will be part of the Global Peace Film Festival in Florida at the beginning of October. Please find specific screening information below.

Dallas Screening

Wednesday, September 30th, 7:30pm
Angelika Film Center, Mockingbird Station
5321 E. Mockingbird Lane (Dallas, Texas 75206)
More information about this screening can be found here.

Global Peace Film Festival Screenings

Screening 1 – Thursday, October 1st, 8pm
Sun Trust Auditorium @ Rollins College, Winter Park FL
E. Fairbanks Ave. and S. Interlachen Ae. (Winter Park, Florida 32789)

Screening 2 – Friday, October 2nd, 5:30pm
Premiere Cinemas 1
3201 E. Colonial Dr. (Orlando, Florida 32803)
Tickets for both screenings can be purchased here.

Alex Boraine

Dr. Boraine speaks on the panel following GAC film screening at the Holocaust Center in Cape Town (photo credit: Vincent Raffray)

As many of you know, our first feature documentary, A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake, has been screened in classrooms and theaters across the globe since its world premiere at the Durban International Film Festival last summer. The film has been met with critical acclaim and racked up various awards including two honorable mentions at the Woodstock Film Festival as well as the Fund for Santa Barbara’s Social Justice Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Most recently, we screened the film back in South Africa at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre in partnership with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. It was by all accounts a moving evening made even more special by our panelists who spoke directly following the film–Dr. Alex Boraine, the co-chair of the South African Truth Commission along with Desmond Tutu; former TRC commissioner Mary Burton; and GAC members Yvette Hardie and Nick Boraine.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Cape Town screening, and, as always, thank you to all of you for your continued support.


Global Arts Corps

‘A Snake’ Returns to South Africa

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 12.42.16 PM

Summer News

Dear friends,

We are very pleased to announce that ‘A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake’ will be returning to South Africa for a screening in Cape Town hosted by the Cape Town Holocaust Centre in partnership with the Institute for Justice & Reconciliation. The screening is free of charge.

Seating is limited so if you are interested please RSVP to: admin@holocaust.org.za or call 021 462 5553

Screening Information:

Wednesday, August 12 @ 6:00 pm
Cape Town Holocaust Centre 
88 Hatfield Street, Gardens

* The film runs 96 minutes and will be followed by a panel discussion

Stay tuned for more summer updates soon. As always, thank you for your support.

Global Arts Corps