OUR FOUNDERS

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CHHIT CHANPHIREAK

Co-founder & Executive Director

Phireak has been making theatre since 2003. He uses theatre as a tool to help us be more honest with ourselves and with each other. His down to earth approach makes his work unique, whether he is running a corporate team building workshop or a community theatre project targeting poor rural communities. 


Phireak’s work experience spans devising, performing and directing. He is a graduate of Theatre at Phare Ponleu Selpak Association. He’s performed on moving trains and in factories and he played the role of Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak in the Khmer language staging of an 8 hour play on Cambodian recent history, written by Hélène Cixous. The latter took Phireak on two European tours, and it is this experience that he credits with confirming his commitment to dedicating his life to the protection and development of Lakhon Niyeay. 


Phireak is passionate about finding and creating meaningful work opportunities for Cambodian theatre artists. His long term vision is to see the forgotten stories and smallest voices of Cambodian society represented in large scale, professional on-stage theatre.

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NOV SREYLEAP

Co-founder & Artist

Leap is a multi-skilled theatre artist, teacher, costume designer and project administrator. She has been making and performing theatre since 1998. Her work has seen her perform in all 25 provinces in Cambodia, as well as in France, Portugal, Rwanda and the USA. Leap is a graduate of Theatre at Phare Ponleu Selpak Association.


Leap values Lakhon Niyeay because it is a live artform which connects audiences and actors. 

She says that first and foremost, theatre is entertaining and fun. At the same time, the artform raises awareness, reveals and challenges social problems. 


Her dedication to being a founder of Lakhon Komnit comes from her love of theatre and her desire to share it with others. Leap is committed to promoting Lakhon Niyeay both nationally and internationally.

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BONNY COOMBE

Co-founder & Communications and Fundraising Manager

Bonny is from the UK and takes care of our fundraising and communications, as well as supporting the LKO team with the general management of the organization.


She studied Applied Theatre at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and then did an MA in Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. She thought the MA was interesting but got frustrated by the lack of real-world applications for all the theory. A module on Cambodia taught by Ashley Thompson changed all that. Bonny ended up moving to Cambodia to volunteer at Phare Ponleu Selpak Association, where she met her husband Chhit Chanphireak (who is now LKO Executive Director).


Bonny is the only foreign member of the LKO team, and has strong views about how to manage her role: "It is too easy for foreigners in Cambodia to be over-promoted - especially if you're white and speak English. Over the years I have seen so many creative projects where decision making power stayed in the foreigner's hands and Cambodian artists were just treated like employees. Cambodian people don't lack creative ideas or leadership ability! They just have less ready access to funding opportunities via networks and because the English language creates such a barrier. So in my role at LKO, I focus on leveling out those inequalities, and as much as possible I try to get out of the way and let my Cambodian colleagues do what they do best."

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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HUOT DARA

Board President

Dara is CEO of Phare Performing Social Enterprise. A student at Phare Ponleu Selpak in 2001, Dara attended the University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh where he earned his degree in Economics, and also studied additional courses in Law.

Dara is passionate about competent mentorship and encouraging motivated artists. He says that few Cambodians have had the luxury of competent mentors because of the loss of highly educated leaders during the war. He is dedicated to encouraging young people to believe in themselves, and supporting them to seize opportunities when the right moment arises in their lives.

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PROFESSOR ASHLEY THOMPSON

Board Member

Ashley is the Hiram W. Woodward Chair in Southeast Asian Art at SOAS University of London.


Ashley is a specialist in Southeast Asian Cultural Histories, with particular expertise on Cambodia. Before taking up academic work in the West (France, the US, the UK), she spent ten years in Thailand and Cambodia working in post-war reconstruction in the fields of education, art, archaeology and cultural heritage research and management. 


An essential moment in the formation of Lakhon Komnit Organization happened in Paris before any of our founders were born. In 1985, Ashley attended the Théâtre du Soleil’s staging of Hélène Cixous’ play The Terrible but Unfinished Story of Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia. Staging the play in Cambodia, in Khmer language, became her dream. In 2007, Ashley and Théâtre du Soleil began working on the Cambodian staging with the Phare Ponleu Selpak Arts School in Battambang. The cast of young, inexperienced actors included Lakhon Komnit’s founders Phireak and Leap. European tours in 2011 and 2013 received critical acclaim, and the experience of staging history through theatre created our dream of founding a Cambodian spoken theatre troupe.

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SOVAN NEARY

Board Member

Neary started working with NGOs in 1995. Nowadays, she is Director of Finance for Phare Performing Social Enterprise.

Neary values the work NGOs do for communities and to improve social situations. While she is not an artist herself, Neary is a passionate supporter of Cambodian arts. She believes that creative projects are developing the country, and she is pleased to support artists’ work with her finance skills.

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CHHITH PHEARATH

Board Member

Freelancer in Casting, Director’s Assistance and Screenwriting for Cinema 


Phearath, known as Boren, is a circus artist, theatre artist and clown. He graduated from Phare Ponleu Selpak Association in 2009. He also participated in the creation of several shows, notably Royaumes with Julot Etienne.


In 2011-2013 he was an artist and assistant for the Théâtre du Soleil and Phare Ponleu Selpak Association co-production of The Terrible but Unfinished Story of Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia

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In 2014, Boren co-starred with Raphaël Personnaz on director Regis Wargnier’s movie Les Temps des Aveux, as well as working in casting and director’s assistance. 


Boren relocated to France, where he studied Cultural Enterprise Management and Communication at IC.COM in Paris and Film Direction at Cinécréatis Nantes


Nowadays, Boren lives in France and works as an director’s assistant for movies shot in Europe and Cambodia, including recent work with Khmer-French film maker Davy Chou.