After showing your ticket, you enter the big top and will find a small set of stairs leading you up into the ring. The very best seats are front and center.
The heat that has become trapped inside floats through the thick air as visitors flap their paper fans in vain. Finally the lights begin to dim and the narrator reminds you to turn off your phone and flash… About 10 times in 10 different languages.
The musicians take their place behind instruments you haven’t seen before and begin to play an eerie melody as the narrator explains the theme of tonight’s performance: fear.
Blue-white lights cut through the darkness and two white bodied figures with crazed hair crawl out of the audience stands. They appear right under your feet.
You soon realize they are aerial acrobats and will spend the rest of the time intertwined with silky ribbons floating down from the center of the big top.
The other performers have been lying in wait and when it is their turn, run out in full character to perform their best tricks and most impressive feats.
This one will come out to woo you and his crush with his illusion tricks before the larger boys push him aside to demonstrate their feats of strength.
The leader of the group, a girl among the many boys, whips the rest into shape and continues to juggle even as they throw more “apples” at her.
These performers, or students as they play, must face their fear of the ghosts who entered the big top at the beginning of the circus. They decide the best way is to confront them and end up climbing to the top where the ghosts earlier disappeared, grabbing chairs for a quick trick along the way.
You’ll know the ghosts are coming back when you hear the music change to an eerie tune. They descend from above and send the other performers into a flurry.
The students pull themselves together again and put on their best performances in an exciting finale.
Too soon the show is over and it is time to say goodbye to this thrilling cast of characters before you head back out into the dark night.
Phare is a circus put on entirely by students from an arts education program in the village of Battambang. The program allows disadvantaged students the opportunity to learn and develop their artistic skills through a free education.
The proceeds from the circus help fund the school so it can continue to serve these students. And if you hang around after the show, the performers come back out for a meet and greet. They are truly talented individuals and it is amazing to see what they have accomplished at such young ages.
Putting It Together
Entry to the circus costs $15 for general admission or $35 for preferred seating (closer to the center) and for an extra $10 you can include a dinner buffet with your ticket. You can visit www.pharecambodiancircus.org to book tickets in advance.
The big top opens at 7:00 PM and the show begins at 7:30 PM; go a little early to guarantee a good seat.
There is a cafe outside selling all sorts of snacks, popcorn and ice cream .
Paper fans are provided and there are mobile air-con units in the tent but it is fairly hot so drink water.
Have you discovered an amazing circus performance somewhere unexpected?
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