FRENCH in form, LAO in spirit
Of all the troupes performing at the Mekong Arts and Media Festival two weeks ago in
Either performing indoors at the Chaktomuk Hall or outdoors near the
Using ordinary second-hand objects like pakhaoma, coconut shells, bottle caps, pie pans, baskets, flip-flops and brooms, Kabong Lao is proof that good theatre doesn't necessarily cost a lot of money to produce—just lots of creativity and an adventurous spirit of experimentation.
At the workshop for the Mekong Festival’s participants they showed that what matters more is how human performers put these objects together to create characters and then manipulate, or giving life to, them.
Oftentimes, three performers are in charge of one large puppet, and synchronization is a key here.
The troupe's artistic director Leuthmany Insisiengmay, or Lung Loet as Thai artists love to call him, received a grant from the French government in the mid-1990s to study le theatre d'objets with the Turak Theatre in
"At the beginning, about 100 people signed up. From that we selected 50 and then five of them were sent to
Today, the troupe has about 15 members, three of whom get a full-time monthly salary from
“Major support is now from international NGOs, mostly from
"When time permits, we teach our audiences, young or not-so-young, how to make object theatre and they're very proud of their creations."
As for the future, Lung Loet, who always performs with the troupe despite his age, said, "We'd like to perform, with some simple dialogues, longer stories—well-known ones like Pla Boo Thong for example."
Some members of Kabong Lao performed in the opening ceremony of the 25th SEA Games in
Next year, the troupe has another major task—co-hosting the Mekong Performing Arts Laboratory with the Philippine Educational Theatre Association and Save the Children (UK), welcoming many theatre companies and children to the Lao capital.
Kabong Lao performs three times daily at the International Street Show in
The writer's travel to Mekong Arts and Media Festival is supported by Philippine Educational Theatre Association and Save the Children (
written by Pawit Mahasarinand
published in THE NATION on Thursday, December 10, 2009
all photos by Phoonsab Thevongsa, courtesy of VIENTIANE TIMES
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