In 2010, the census confirmed what many Boston residents already understood: that there was no longer a cultural majority in our city. We are a city of many minorities. ArtsEmerson was launched in the same moment, and from the beginning, we have been committed to building our organization in a way that both acknowledged and welcomed that reality.
We framed it, then, as a commitment to “putting the world on stage.” We knew that this commitment would also ask us to go about things differently as we built the ArtsEmerson audience, so we dedicated the organization to helping connect across our differences, imagining a thriving world that is fueled by empathy and ignited by art.
Bangsokol is a direct expression of these commitments.
Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia is the culminating performance of what has been a month-long series of events programmed in partnership with important community organizations serving our Cambodian neighbors. The series has included film, dance, music, performance and workshops both in the city and in Lowell—all exploring aspects of Cambodian culture. The series was designed with, curated by and featured all of these partners.
Together, we were setting the table for Bangsokol with these events. What you will see in this production is built on a Buddhist ritual for the dead. In effect, we are all participants in this ritual, honoring the victims of the Cambodian genocide. It’s estimated that, 40 years ago, 25% of Cambodia’s population perished at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Tens of thousands more fled Cambodia and settled among us. The Boston area is home to the second-largest population of Cambodian refugees in the nation. The enormity of the loss, and the unthinkably brutal manner of it, live with us today.
Bangsokol is an effort to honor those lost and create a space for those still with us to speak to the unspeakable. We hope you will engage the conversation with your family, your neighbors
and with the people you’ve yet to meet who are here tonight who will be sharing this experience alongside you. We are honored to serve as the host of this one-of-a-kind event.
- David Dower, Artistic Director
DEC 19 – 20