By Andrew Okada
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The University of Washington (UW)’s Khmer Student Association marked its 21st annual Cambodian New Year Show on April 15. Hundreds of students and community members alike rocked up to the UW Husky Union Building Ballroom dressed to the nines to enjoy a catered meal, cultural performances, and bare witness to the hilarity of the nightlong rendition of Phnom Pros Phnom Srey: A Tale of Two Mountains.
The emcees for the night kicked things off with a hard hitting plea for support of the quickly fading Khmer language program at the UW, stressing the importance of fostering a community in which Khmer culture could be explored and shared. Following these personal testimonies, they wasted no time jumping right into the long set list of performances they had lined up for the night, with the big attraction of the night being the theatrical reenactment of Phnom Pros Phnom Srey: A Tale of Two Mountains that comprised the framework for the show as a whole.
Throughout the performance, the student ensemble embraced their cultural idiosyncrasies, dropped cultural jokes, and seamlessly transitioned between languages to keep their diverse audience engaged. They delivered a truly humorous and lovable performance. The story played out in segments over the course of the evening, punctuated by shorter but equally fascinating artistic performances. Between the various scenes and acts, audiences were captivated by elegantly choreographed dances, reveled in cultural songs, and were charmed by the bilingual bantering of the emcees throughout the night.
Approximately 300 community members turned out for this year’s show. The genuine passion for culture exhibited by the students was not only a testament to the unity of UW’s Khmer community, but an optimistic nod to its continued strength in the years to come.
Andrew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.