In Cambodia, as in other countries emerging from violent conflict, personal experiences of violence, privation, and loss often remain unspoken. Global Arts Corps is presently working with a group of young Cambodian circus performers, themselves second generation survivors of the genocide, who want to explode this traumatic legacy of silence using their world-class circus skills to tell their story.
a 6-minute film with footage from Global Arts Corps’ production development workshops with our cast from the Phare Ponleu Selpak, filmed in 2015 (Battambang, Cambodia).
The 19 performers who make up the cast of See You Yesterday have been trained in circus by a Cambodian arts organization, Phare Ponleu Selpak (Brightness of the Arts), an independent NGO which originated in 1986 in the Site 2 refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border and relocated with the closing of the camp to Battambang in 1994 to support vulnerable children, young adults and their families.
Phare and their professional performing arts company (PPSE) invited Global Arts Corps to work with their students in 2012, after witnessing the unique collaboration that gave birth to Global Arts Corps’ first touring theatre production from South Africa, Truth in Translation. They asked that GAC begin a related project in Cambodia—strengthening their performers’ acting skills while asking them to delve deeply into their own identities to understand a genocide they know little about, but one that haunts their daily lives and manipulates their choices in the present.
We have now been working with these young performers for the past four years. After holding two preview performances in Phnom Penh in March 2016, the World Premiere of See You Yesterday took place on July 17th, 2016, at the Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali, Rwanda. Following the performance at the festival, the cast traveled to the Kigeme refugee camp in Southern Rwanda, where they played on three consecutive mornings for audiences of over 5,000 Congolese refugees each day, lining the hills around our improvised stage. To view the visual report from the Rwandan tour of See You Yesterday, click here.
We are now seeking partners to tour See You Yesterday to other refugee camps and post-conflict areas around the world, where the Cambodian cast can share their story with others who are struggling to understand where they’ve come from and find an identity in communities torn apart by violence.