Breaking the Silence

Lakhaon Niyeay
Rehearsal, 2009, Phnom Penh Performed in Khmer with English sur-titles.
A new work incorporating theater, poetry, music and dance based on memories recounted during interviews conducted with a wide range of Cambodians who lived during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Directed by Annemarie Prins (the Netherlands) and featuring artists from the Secondary School of Fine Arts.
Produced by Amrita Performing Arts.


O, darling, my darling!
Now you are dead.
You're shot dead...Buddho!
You've left me alone
in the middle of this island.
From today onward
I shall have no hope.

   From: The Keening of Wives, U Sam Oeur
This play is about regaining hope.
We will tell you stories.
The real stories of people who survived the Khmer Rouge era.
Stories that continue to evolve.
You're invited to imagine their future, which could also be your future.
1. A story about divided people: two women and two men in their 50's.
2. A story about two women who were young, so very young when their lives were ruined: and now are two adult women in their 40's.
3. A story about betrayal and guilt: a 76 year old woman, caring for her 51 year old son.
4. A story about a student who dreamed about a better world: a man of 52 meets his mother of 75.
5. A story about a little girl, who wanted to say sorry but could not: she's now 38 years old.
6. A story about a girl who stopped talking: then she was a teenager, now she's 47.
7. A story about a boy and a girl who were once upon a time dear friends: they are now nearly  50 years old.
I won't mind
if you have thoughts
to add to mine.
I won't say
your words are "good" or "not good"
If you have more to add
that would be wonderfull.
From: Could we ever forget, Ok Kork

Director's Note
In order to make this play, I have tried to understand this country of wonders and its wonderful people. It has been over four years since I was invited by Fred Frumberg, executive director of Amrita Perfoming Arts, to give a workshop for the theater teachers at the Royal University of Fine Arts. Using text fragments of my beloved writer Samuel Beckett, I introduced six actors/teachers (four of which perform in this show) to the world of western contemporary theatre. During these two weeks some of the actresses started to tell me fragments of their childhood stories. Those were the seeds of our first new play, '3 years, 8 months, 20 days': a production based on the memories of three actresses as young girls during Pol Pots reign, featuring Morm Sokly, Kov Sotheary and Chhon Sina. The play was conceived as a small scale indoor performance and has been presented in Phom Penh and at the 2007 Singapore Arts Festival. It was only at that stage that I realized that this production, which delved deeply into Cambodia's recent history, would reach a very limited Cambodian audience. Having gained more and more insight into the effects of the genocide and the near extinction of entire generations of artists and intellectuals, I realized I had to make a second play. This new production would need to be made to tour throughout the country and deal not only with history, but also with the question of how to go on. Breaking the Silence is based on many interviews I conducted during a research trip in January 2008, several meetings with Youk Cchang - director of DC-Cam, - the viewing of hours of footage and reading every available book on the topic. The main goal of this production is to find a way out of trauma's silence; contributing to open dialogue as part of the process of reconciliation.
Traveling, talking, reading, viewing and most of all: working with this amazing team, helped me get closer to knowing the Cambodian soul.  And I am grateful to the beautiful Cambodian poets, especially U Sam Oeur who is very present in this show.  They all helped me to begin to understand.
I hope you will appreciate Breaking the Silence,

 Annemarie Prins

This production has been made possible through generous support from
The Prince Claus Fund
The Royal Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangkok
The Theater Embassy - Amsterdam

Research and interviews were arranged in close collaboration with the Documentation Center of Cambodia, as will be the outreach programs planned for the provincial tour.
DCCAM also has a good PDF of the play:
And more at: