Performance at Wat Bo (Reach-bo)
It was a privilege that tourists are given the opportunity to witness a wonderful puppet shadow show at Wat Bo, one of the oldest Buddhist pagodas in Siem Reap province. The show was run by a well-known local art organization called Cambodian Living Arts. The Wat is famous for the ancient detailed wall painting of Reamker, the Cambodian version of one of the great Hindu epics, Ramayana. So, when the performance was added to the Wat, it was even greater.
Audiences were invited to walked in through two long rows of candles which we felt as if they were walking into a pure ancient place. The overall arrangement made you feel that you were in the 12th or 13th century watching a breathtaking performance by the Apsara (beautiful, supernatural female beings, youthful and elegant, and superb in the art of dancing) emerged from the Angkor Wat’s bas relief.
Audiences then were invited to sit on several colorful mats (a typical Cambodia’s local hospitality) and a number of comfortable cushions where you can rest a bit before the show had started. It was such a relaxing atmosphere especially for tourists who just came from touring the temples all day.
At 7pm as the program had set for the performance, we noticed a bulk of fire started into flame behind the screen. Then we realized that the fire was made to give the light so that we could see the puppet show. It was very unique since we only used to see the electricity light instead of the real fire. This even made the show greater and sensible.
A group of artists then came forward to perform the “Thvay Kruu”, a performance at every artistic show to show their gratitude and respect for their masters and ancestors. Then the show started to tell a piece of Reamke’s journey to rescue his wife, Sita, from Ravana, the king of Langka Kingdom.
The shadow puppet show is very unique in a way that the artists do come in front of the screen and perform which made each characters become in real lives. Thus, there were times when artists dropped their puppets and acted just a few meters away in front of the audiences. It was such a great feeling to the living arts of Cambodia especially at a most natural setting as at the Wat Bo.
There were too few people to attend the show. There should be more people to witness such a great show. While people come and go at Siem Reap, please watch out the Cambodian Living Arts Website and local events for further announcement of the future program.