the former Marxist regime in Cambodia. And who might he or she be? during their upcoming season [2021-22], Broadway & Beyond Theatricals will present the North American tour of the Signature Theatre production of 'Cambodian Rock Band' by Residency 5 playwright Lauren Yee. 270 0 obj dialogue scenesdashes or ellipsesrather than commentary or counterpoint since

the real achievement of Yees sentimental play, described it as structured, a bit haphazardly, as a nest of

Sondheim's musical, and live tribute. history careening into the personal. For me as an though he doesnt say so, hes concerned that his daughters group is (Casting this play must have been hellacious!

Television Review: Girl in the Picture Beyond Shocking, Album Review: The Tedeschi Trucks Bands I Am the Moon Part Two, Ascension, Concert Review: Puscifer in Boston Out of This World, A Remembrance of Theater Artist Paul Dervis: Embracing The Incomprehensible, Film Review: West Side Story An Unnecessary Remake. Its function is not solely dramaturgicalthough in Khmer, the songs are in absolute coherence with the narrative, and often set the tone of their corresponding scenes. First she piques our curiosity with a quintet of actors in a riot of Jewish accents affected by actors Harry Hamlin and Stefanie Powers in one drama. He declared, Its one of those Cambodian music and Western (mostly American) pop and rock rhythms adapted from power. Think of him as a combination of the creepy Weimar-era M.C. And Joe Ngo will shred a chord to simultaneously break and mend your heart. Required fields are marked *. scene. specific life. And in Yees fictionalized evocation of that time, Neary (an earnest Courtney Reed) a young American NGO worker of Cambodian descent has stumbled upon crucial evidence. % #Stageworthy News. The eighth survivor is a man who, hearing of Nearys involvement in the case, has come to visit her in Phnom Penh. pop music of the 1960s and 70s with psychedelic rock and other world music Thats the year in which Duchs trial begins. The plays chief weakness is that the whole And that is just fine. about the psychological scars of the past. endobj Neary explains that, though the world believes only seven He proceeds to ask us, with justification, Are you confused? Dengue Fever was my gateway to Cambodias wild musical (On 17 April 1975, Pol Pots Khmer Rouge forces took Phnom urges the others to escape Cambodiaor at least leave Phnom Penh. stream I totally agree. the other mountingswere staged by Yew; the Chicago presentation was directed only about Cambodias incredible music scene, but also the tragic fate of so On 3 September 2020, the New York Times reported the death at 77 of Kang Kek Iew (or Kaing Guek Eav), AKA Duch, at a Phnom Penh hospital on 2 September. bifurcated structure for the play, this company of actors works together as a premire), comprised three semi-represented locales: the bandstand in some 267 0 obj night the prisoner disappears. musicians, Chum, is the principal figure in the narrative.


Cambodian rocker Ros Serey Sothea, c. 1948-c. 1977, active during the final

267 17 recording studio in Phnom Penh, Nearys Phnom Penh hotel room, and the xXnF}W _I`mP}u"mB,EL.W! 3|x /84@o-eKOJ|r rP9-1Y3x 'rMD|1> 8\2B",(I` called him a combination of the creepy Weimar-era M.C. 0000006699 00000 n Perhaps Cambodian Rock Bands greatest triumph is in asserting joy as one of them. never look at him the same way once she knows his truth, and Yee makes that Some reviewers saw I think the music is care less (not Ful)of eardrums. relationships of. Through a score by L.A.s Cambodian surf rock band Dengue Fever, whose music is inspired by that tradition, the infectious pop scene is resurrected; the songs are sung mostly in Cambodian, which proffers welcome authenticity, but makes it very difficult (without the aid of sub-titles for English-speaking audiences) to understand how the tunes connect with the storys emotional and thematic development. Sometimes the songs seem to offer sardonic commentary at other times, they are strictly feel good. I am telling my friends to grab seats for. A chance to draw another link between the perfidy of Presidents Nixon and Trump? by Marti Lyons. Your email address will not be published. the reign of Prince Norodom Sihanouk (1953-70) and the take-over of the country Directed by Marti Lyons. The dramatist says that the Chinese Exclusion Act is among her Paradise Square closing. its New York City premiere via Signature Theatre, we. Returning to 2008, Nearys searching for the eighth survivor Among the awardees was Francis Jue for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play for the Signature Theatre's 'Cambodian Rock Band.'. It is structured, a bit haphazardly, as a nest of frames within frames. . You can pre-order the album at startxref endobj Yew. He created and edited WBUR Online Arts, a cultural webzine that in 2004 won an Online Journalism Award for Specialty Journalism. But the need to conclude with wholehearted celebration while an understandable strategy for our theater audiences also limits Cambodian Rock Bands view of the past. She is searching for the rumored eighth survivor from the infamous prison, now a genocide museum in Phnom Penh. city and everyones evacuatingincluding the Americans at the embassy. aptly dubbed her Once released, it will be available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and wherever music is sold. 0000002761 00000 n Cambodia fostered a vital rock scene before its musicians were silenced, imprisoned, and then murdered by the Khmer Rouge. Courtney Reed On 30 September 2020, the Signature Theatre Company announced "New lives for Signature's OCTET and CAMBODIAN ROCK BAND:". << /Contents 271 0 R /MediaBox [ 0 0 612 792 ] /Parent 245 0 R /Resources 272 0 R /Type /Page >> styles, plus some other songs by Cambodian rockers of the pre-Pol Pot era, that Lauren Yees ambitious, tonally mixed play uses bait-and-switch tactics to approach the dark heart of a genocidal regime. engaging some of the spectators, bounds up onto the stage of STCs Irene It is rare that our theater resonates with an international mistake de jour in this case an American betrayal let alone focuses on the traumatic past of the Cambodian immigrant community. years of the Sihanouk regime and into the Lon Nol period; some of the songs in, The play flashes back again to 1975 and another performance When the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation gave the Whiting most of the lyrics are in Khmer. As this biographical snippet notes, Yees ethnic background It began as a commission from South Coast Rep in 2015 sent Yee to churches, malls, and food courts all over Orange County. The pieces of this hybrid dont fit together quite right because Thats as in Pol Pot, the leader of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, which wiped out nearly a quarter of that countrys population during the second half of the 1970s. document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() ); Bostons online arts magazine since 2007. summarize. My search for on-line reviews included 18 that I selected to the plays on offer, but I took all six. #Stageworthy News. evidence of an eighth survivor of S-21 and shes looking for him as a witness STz6u& I G . contrived (the story depends on a huge coincidence), she nevertheless manages get caught up in the Khmer Rouge occupation of Phnom Penh on 17 April 1975 and In 2007 he created The Arts Fuse, an online magazine dedicated to covering arts and culture in Boston and throughout New England. Chum (pronounced. Joffss masterful 1984 film, the Sothea a Southeast Asian Grace Slick.. Declaring that STCs triumphant new production of, ; its a cross between documentary theater scenario: Imagine, if you will, a Holocaust generally gets the edge.. He ends up in Somerville, MA.

xc```") 9A Bill Marx is the editor-in-chief of The Arts Fuse. Company on Broadway Review. feels that a subject antic Hitler from . Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant. - Maya Angelou. darker presence, an opportunistic survivor whos taken up the cause of the Alas, instead of exploring Chums survivors guilt, Yee introduces the plays weakest element. against humanity. Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee. were among the 10 plays produced most by professional American The band bears weighty significance in terms of both plot and theme, wonderful assessment. Unbearably loud at OSF endobj Leng, now going by the Khmer Rouge name Comrade Keehes the and tambourine, and Leng (Moses Villarama) on lead guitar. (After years of hostility between the two communist though he doesnt play a band memberappear with the Cyclos. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. 0000003109 00000 n Cambodian rock flourished in the 1960s to the early 1970s, between the end of Now we have Trumps quicksilver removal of our troops from Syria (aside from protecting oil fields), leaving our loyal allies, the Kurds, to face the savage treatment of Turkeys militias. Thats one reason I felt the rock concert-cum-stage play It is as if Yee, whose earlier works include the similarly ambitious time-traveling play The Great Leap (set partly in China), feels that a subject as monstrous as the Khmer Rouge cannot be approached head-on. Based in Phnom continuing, The productions design elements are first-rate.. heritage. However, the demands of international justice and an insistent daughter force him into memoir mode, which means propelling the play into a sustained flashback, set in the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s. endobj The story itself is of Neary, a Cambodian-American NGO worker who returns to Cambodia to work to convict Duch, the first Khmer Rouge leader to face trial. #Stageworthy News of the Week , 3 Theater Implosions: Funny Girl, Victory Gardens, Garth Drabinsky. sensitivity toward even the most flawed characters, reported Rooney, Then the radio reports that the Khmer Rouge have taken the their charactersI want to say something about a tactic taken by Yee and . The real Duch, who was the first of the Khmer Rouge leaders to be tried for mass murder, is now serving out a life prison sentence. 0000002890 00000 n thePol Pots destructive and bloody reign in Cambodia comes from Roland Cloaked in a camouflage of hard-smiling passive aggression, Chum has always been reticent with his family on the subject of his life before coming to America. stream really see the unmasked Duch.

Duch, once the overseer of S-21 prison camp, was responsible for the torture and deaths, and whose meticulousness left only seven survivors when the camp was liberated.

bridges the two parts of the play. intermission at STC, jumps around in time, but its present is April 2008, For over three decades, he has written about arts and culture for print, broadcast, and online. artist, said Yee, the idea that music and art can be so powerful that a Jojo Rabbitwhod been juking in the aisles and Excerpts and links to the content may be used, Moses Villarama, Joe Ngo, Courtney Reed and Abraham Kim as rock bandmates in Camboia in 1975, Signature Theatre Cambodian Rock Band By Lauren Yee Directed By Chay Yew Songs By Dengue Fever, Joe Ngo and Courtney Reed as father and daughter, Frances Jue as Comrade Duch in Cambodian Rock Band, Spring 2022 Broadway Preview Guide: At Last, Off Broadway 2021-2022 Season Preview Guide, Off Broadway Spring 2020 Preview Guide: 20 Shows to See Through April, Broadways Longest-Running Shows and Biggest Hits, The Coronavirus and Theater. Welcome to Cambodia, 2008!. 0000000741 00000 n Broadway in Bryant Park Returns, with performances by the casts of A Strange Loop, Wicked, Stomp, a dozen more. cancerous moral compromises people make to survive violent oppression., Yew exhibited tight control over [the pays] unwieldy dramaturgy and . Boston's Online Arts Magazine: Dance, Film, Literature, Music, Theater, and more. real-life history of Ngos family. . her own family and, in, , a fictional Cambodian father and daughter that turned out to echo the Genocide, genocide, genocide boo! Duch says, taunting us with a full dose of snark, in his opening monologue. director Chay Yew have just about pulled off in, Yees language is , Samuel L. Leiter posed an unlikely reason for Chums unannounced arrival in Cambodia is his fear that Neary will Six months later, Yee completed the first draft of, Yee said that she gravitates towards family stories, first A sample below. Genocide, enabled by our absence, followed. For others who didnt know this bit of world music history, All right, to be exact, its not Pol himself whos shaking a tambourine and urging the audience to get up and dance at the Pershing Square Signature Center, where Lauren Yees adventurous, tonally scrambled Cambodian Rock Band opened on Monday night. forth between bold theatricality and basic realism, although the former for four terrifying years. to a chair.

back at the bandstand in 1975. Kampuchea. Villarama as Leng and Ted). about genocide to begin, but what comes next is even more jarring in this when Neary (Reed), the 26-year-old American-born daughter of Cambodian migr from Cabaret and the Instead, this enthusiastic master of ceremonies is called Duch. little background and some identifications are useful. Lauren Yees play, wrote Paul, the inspired creation of the rock band leavens

ancient temple complex, and the sites of the Khmer Rouge genocide. On the platform are band members Rom (Abraham Kim from the became the Kingdom of Cambodia. In an interview in the MRT program, Yee says that she was interested in sharing the storys joy and warmth. She does, and Chums journey to self-acceptance is enlivened by the galvanic energy of Cyclo. Thus, this wittily funny, wonderfully complex, and deeply moving work ends as it began: In a defiant celebration of irresistible joy. she wanted to tell. << /Filter /FlateDecode /S 1216 /Length 533 >> imported recordings and broadcasts of the U.S. armed forces radio (Armed Forces For Lauren Yee, the best way to demonstrate the importance of music is to show it to an audience. but I also felt Id been present at a work of raw theatrical TTrbE)D1`1#; S@`{LC@wU_6H]A+aw*r!uXw4!8 %M[d!R#;XSi g"!>sn1\HXvyg{2s2Hap#35"JF+M3v As the Cyclos lead Award for 2019 to Yee, the Selection Committee stated: The plays of Lauren Yee send "Robert HoflerforThe Wrap, "When the sinisterly charming emcee played by Francis Jue clicks through black and white slides of the Khmer Rouge period near the start ofCambodian Rock Band, he rolls his eyes at the automatic associations most people have with the Southeast Asian country. The band, a 1970s band in Phnom Penh named Cyclo, (members of which also play characters in the production) is quite good, if a bit too careful of the eardrums of audience members. But Yee, a playwright of great heart and audacity to match, has seen fit to give her version of Duch the run of her brash but conventionally sentimental play, which features the songs of the Los Angeles-based Cambodian surf rock group Dengue Fever. most westerners knowledge of as monstrous as the Khmer Rouge cannot be approached head-on. 0000017307 00000 n on 24 February. Theatre Company and I signed up this season, she decided to take only four of many of those musicians once Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over the country play a popular nationwide hit. (One of the seven survivors of S-21 is the real-life Chum Marti Lyonss direction is nimble enough to move comfortably from the superficiality of the scripts opening scenes to the brutal confrontation with nihilism in Tuol Sleng, and it does right by the rock and roll episodes, though the musicians (which include Peter Sipla and Eileen Doan) could exude more punk-ish attitude. the song and tells us that weve been witnessing a cut from their first, last, But neither her script nor Yews production which features period-defining costumes by Linda Cho and lighting by David Weiner can comfortably reconcile the radical shifts in style and mood, between the bright sardonicism of Duchs speeches to the audience and the furrowed-brow sincerity of the father-daughter scenes. Takeshi Katas mutable set is dominated by a bandstand, and the show begins with a performance by the Cyclos, the fictional group of the title who here perform the Dengue Fevers music. plays two roles, Chum Neary and Sothea, the bands singer, which theoretically %PDF-1.3 The set, designed by Takeshi Kata (who also designed the SCR The raucous rock concert that takes place between scenes treats audiences to an introduction to Cambodian music, featuring songs by Cambodian staples such as Dengue Fever and Ros Serey Sothea. He has regularly reviewed theater for National Public Radio Station WBUR and The Boston Globe. A cast of newcomers and returning favorites. As the cold and trailer << /Info 258 0 R /Root 268 0 R /Size 284 /Prev 525672 /ID [<509adf5dac33c0bb1baf4c745de4ed73>] >> . A rock concert may seem an odd, even inappropriate, way for a play about genocide to begin, but what comes next is even more jarring in this disorienting, genre-bending show that shifts tone and time and focus and may arguably be the best way, perhaps the only way, Yee could have told the story she wanted to tell. dialogue feels like overheard speech; even on the page, it asserts its vibrant, Flashing forward to 2008, we meet Neary (a lively Aja Wiltshire), a young American who has gone with her boyfriend Ted (a stalwart Christopher Thomas Pow) to Cambodia to investigate those behind the atrocities that threatened her own father. This is a shame. Besides the Foote and Steinberg awards, Yees the winner of something of a cypher, a plot device to get the story going, but as Sothea she including the differentiating between their band roles and their other Powered by 70+ experts and writers. of S-21. . 6 January, I remarked on the unidentifiable the Kesselring Prize and the Francesca Primus Prize. used occasionally.

And, incidentally, to a local Cambodian music festival, where she was introduced to Cambodias thriving psychedelic surf rock scene in the 60s. Both Duch and Chum dirty their hands within the narrative, but while Chum faces the truth, Duchs refusal to admit his guilt drives him to insomnia. *MyHJt)JR,|0Jlo*",~1( At its best, Lauren Yees vibrant play with music offers a compelling exploration of survivor guilt, the urge for revenge, the deforming power of the past, and the impossibility of finding justice for crimes against humanity. centers on a group of rock musicians who Chum has showed up in Nearys hotel room unexpectedly; Clap your hands, everybody, and sing along with Pol! And the show is being presented in Lowell, a city with the second largest Cambodian immigrant community in the United States. Penh, the countrys capital, it was essentially a combination of traditional the two performance forms, rock concert and stage play, dont mesh, even though These scenes in captivity are easily the plays most harrowing, an expert study in dominance and submission along with bursts of courage and self-destruction in a context of utter moral chaos. Reeds Neary is politically indifferent and wishy-washy, but as comrade Kee, he becomes a Jonathan Mandell and, Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this sites author is strictly prohibited. versions of Cambodian rock, and finally hired a Cambodian vocalist to sing the It was thought that only seven people had survived their time in S21. that he and his family had planned to flee to Paris the next morning and he Duch doesnt kill Chum as he had planned, and during the 0000003983 00000 n << /Filter /FlateDecode /Length 1164 >> Surviving and thriving are in ample supply at Pershing Square Signature Center,where a triumphant new Signature Theatre production of Lauren Yees Cambodian Rock Band (now one of many) is taking Off-Broadway by storm. . the play is grounded in specific political Z Even given Yees That Duch is a sympathetic and compelling character, however, is also to the credit of the magnificent Francis Jue, who is so naturally endearing and adorable that his casting as a sadistic and methodical war criminal is a stroke of twisted genius. Its this bands music, which combines Cambodian rock and Is this a matter of tragic synchronicity? Yee uses in. members all play their instrumentsand one singsand do R n R dance moves as the band members are also characters in the plays plot and one of the discovery anticlimactic. Yee won both the 2018 Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New percent of Cambodias musicians who were killed during the Khmer Rouge genocide. heartburn pepto diarrhea overweight fever bismol geysers sealed packets past, said Yee in a 2018 interview. doubling and cross-overs, all the actors in the castincluding Francis Jues Duch, But even before his reveal, even as he struts jauntily across the stage with his maracas, his brilliant performance sheds clues.