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Jam Packed Pan-Asian Festival of the Disabled Hits Phnom Penh

By: Dan Poynton and The Mekong Times Posted: February-22-2008 in
Dan Poynton and The Mekong Times

A unique festival extravaganza is coming to town this Saturday: Spotlight - "the first ever inclusive arts festival to be held in Cambodia." This jam packed festival, featuring professional performers from seven Asian countries, is "inclusive" because both disabled and able-bodied artists are participating together. The main thing in common to the over 200 Spotlight artists appears to be quality, making disability irrelevant and breaking down the barriers between "disabled" and "able".

Spotlight will include theatre, dance, music, film and visual arts in the most established and trendy venues all over Phnom Penh for eight days, and in Siem Reap town for three days. The festival is put on by Epic Arts, a local arts NGO who work with the disabled community.

The festival will kick off in style with something that may not have been seen in Phnom Penh since King Sihanouk's golden era of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum. Replacing the military parades typical of recent eras, there will be a festival parade starting 4pm at the National Museum and snaking along the riverside to Chaktomuk Theatre. With over 300 participants it will include floats, tuk tuks, cyclos and wheelchairs.

The opening ceremony at Chaktomuk Theatre will include five different performances MC-ed by blind chapei-strumming legend Kong Nai. Japan's disabled contemporary dance troupe Inochi, Meguru will also take part. Other events in the festival include: "Live painting" by quadriplegic Singaporean artist Kok Leong who holds his paint brush with this teeth; Vietnam's hearing impaired improvising dance and traditional music "Together Higher Dance Troupe"; Japan's "Hitomi Deaf Puppet Theatre"; and a revival of the hilarious and risqué "Let's Talk About Love" from the National School of Fine Arts and Phare Ponleu Selpak.

Dan Poynton is a reporter for the Mekong Times

This article first appeared in The Mekong Times
The Mekong Times is a daily newspaper distributed in Cambodia.
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