Kampong Thom Yike Theatre Group Under Threat

Yike performances are based on legendary stories. Photo: ThmeyThmey

SIEM REAP – A traditional yike theatre group in central Kampong Thom province is facing the threat of closure amid a shortage of children to train in the Cambodian musical form. 

The Kampong Savy district group was established in 1968 in Ny Pech village by Ta Khuth, who died many years ago.

Yike performances are based on legendary stories. Factors attributed to its decline include young people not wanting to learn while others  move to different places, which makes it hard to regroup and learn. 

“I am very worried. I try to train but some of the children who have finished their training go to Phnom Penh and some to Thailand,” said instructor and leader Yat That.

“We have only two or three days to prepare before the show. Members living in different locations have made it difficult to meet up but the past few years, they have been staying in the same village, so it is quite easy.”

Since 2020, the group has performed in many special events such as Khmer New Year, village festival, and Pchum Ben. The group performed in Phnom Penh during the 2023 Water Festival.

“We don’t want to lose the group we have been trying to build for several generations, and yike is also the national identity of Cambodia,” That said.

Generally, one show needs more than 10 people. Because of the player shortage, the group must pick stories with fewer parts.

Training includes practicing movement, speaking and singing and is free and open to everyone.

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