Friday, September 16, 2011

Snail man wins Princess

Three generations of Em Theay's family, with her daughter Thong Kim An on the right
Em Theay is center-stage with her flowers and her performers
The Em Theay clan was out in full force tonight at the first showing of Preah Saing, a traditional tale that the lady known in the West as the Tenth Dancer, had adapted and written in a classical style and was showing as part of the annual Lakhaon festival put on by the Institut Francais at Chenla Theater. As long as you suspend belief for the duration of the performance, it's about a child found by a giant in a snail shell and to win the hand of the King's daughter, there's some jiggery-pokery with fish and snail masks before everyone lives happily ever after. Em Theay came out at the end to take the plaudits, and was on-stage next to her daughter Thong Kim An, who directed the piece, as well as her granddaughter, Nam Narin, who donned the snail mask for much of the show. Another big star of the classical stage was also one of the central characters, with Sam Sathya shining bright as the King's beautiful daughter. It's always a pleasure to see Em Theay, especially on stage, where she simply can't help herself, showing off a few poses and movements with her toothless grin spread from ear to ear, but it's also important that she continues to add to the classical repertoire by writing a piece like Preah Saing. I hope she goes on forever.
Sam Sathya, as regal and perfect as always
Nam Narin in her snail mask
Sam Sathya owns the stage whenever she's on it
Sam Sathya as the Princess trying to find a husband
The Princess and the snail-faced suitor spend the night together
The cast take the applause from the packed Chenla Theater audience

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