In New York City with a fire flickering on a large flat screen behind the white shadow screen, the ancient art of Sbek Thom came to life as a part of the Seasons of Cambodia Festival. The Shadow Puppet Troupe of Wat Raja Bo from Siem Reap, Cambodia performed an excerpt from the Reamker (Cambodian telling of the Ramayana).
The show was beautifully coordinated, between the narration, puppeteers, dancers and musicians. After the show I spoke with the artists who shared with me that the tradition was revived 15 years ago by monk who was the last carrier of this cultural form in the Wat Bo Temple. I was told that puppets are drawn and carved individually, without tracing pervious puppets, an individual puppet can take up to 40 days to make!