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Police Questioning Officer Who Interrupted Traditional Theater Performance to Request Permit

KRATIE: A police chief has been summoned for questioning in Kratie Province after he interrupted a traditional dance performance at a pagoda to request a permit, shocking the audience and performers alike.

The Kratie Chief of Police summoned the officer for questioning about why he stopped a Lakhon Bassac theatre performance during a Kathin ceremony at the Ang Snoul Pagoda on the night of November 21.

Lakhon Bassac is an operatic storytelling form of theater that took off in Cambodia in the early 1900’s. It is performed during the dry season and generally tells legends of princes and the evil spirits and comical characters they encounter. This particular performance was in celebration of Kathin, a Buddhist festival which marks the end of the monks’ three-month rainy season retreat.

Even the head priest at the pagoda was shocked that evening when the police officer stopped the event mid-performance, an act seen as highly disrespectful to a traditional Khmer art.

Kratie Police Commissioner Ou Sobona told EAC News on November 23, that the Disciplinary Council of the Kratie Police has collected information and will follow the procedure of the National Police Force.

Director-General of Cultural Technology, Siyon Sophearith also told EAC News that theater groups are always registered with the Department of Culture and Fine Arts, but that he cannot judge who is right or wrong until he has more information.

He emphasized that both the Ministry of Culture and the Department of Culture always encourage and support activities that promote Khmer culture.

He said, "Everyone knows that the Khmer theater and the Khmer performing arts today needs a lot of support, those things are important [….] For the Ministry or department is to support to activities that promote the cultural sector.”

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