Sunday, April 04, 2010

Cambodian Genocide / Art and Culture of Genocide

Playwright Catherine Filloux on Genocide, Surviving, and Hope
By Marjorie Rivera, Staff Writer
The Wesleyan Argus, April 2, 2010
"Catherine Filloux has a good reason to be serious: she has spent the last two decades writing plays that center on genocide and its devastating effect on human life and livelihood. On March 24, at Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, she presented two 10-minute clips of her most recent work, 'Where Elephants Weep,' a rock opera about a man who has returned to Cambodia after a successful career in the United States, only to find his homeland still entrenched in poverty and political instability that remains from the genocide in 1975. The opera, written and sung in English and Khmer with corresponding subtitles, premiered in Cambodia in November 2008. The English portions of the opera
are sung with American rock overtones while the Cambodian parts are performed with more traditional Cambodian accompaniment, which more subtly underlines the distinction between the two cultures and how they attempt to reconcile themselves within the play. Filloux began writing about survivors of the Cambodian genocide in 1996, with her play 'Eyes of the Heart,' about a survivor who is psychosomatically blind. She was inspired to write this play after interviewing a group of psychosomatically blind Cambodian women living in Long Beach. Their stories stuck with her, and Filloux has been attempting to relate the effects of genocide ever since. [Interview follows] [...]"
[n.b. I saw , and was very impressed by, Filloux's play "Lemkin's House" in New York City. Photo by Harry Hanson.]