Cosmic Cambodia | The Cambodian Space Project

Blast off and rock out with The Cambodian Space Project, on a trip that is simply out of this world, in Hanuman Spaceman: a trippy tropical rock opera – a psychedelic sci-fi fairytale fusing ancient epic tales with a funky, feisty take on contemporary Cambodia.

About Cosmic Cambodia

This extraordinary band has been at the forefront of an astonishing cultural revival in Cambodia, since singer Channthy Kak and musician Julien Poulson teamed up, to sing back to life the lost divas and rock legends of Cambodia’s golden age of rock’n’roll, all but wiped out by the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime.

Hanuman Spaceman tells the story of brilliantly charismatic singer Srey Channthy Kak, whose character is tired of selling pancakes in the village. Channelling the trickster monkey god Hanuman, she builds a rocket to travel to the moon.

It’s a story in song, images and dreams, drawing on the practices of Cambodian & Australian artists from both places: Khmer pop, rock’n’roll, epic tales both east and west, classical Khmer dance, science fiction, blaxploitation films, shadow puppetry & digital image. A story of escape, adventure, of dreaming big things, and most of all, celebrating life.

It’s a fast-moving, energetic show, driven by great songs and the band’s powerful big beat sound, a four piece teamed with Khmer traditional instrumentation and dancers The Spacettes, fusing their very precise Khmer classical dance with the exuberance of 60s go-go.

The Cambodian Space Project sound is definitely for the 21st century, mashing tradition with rock’n’roll, rare groove, soul, and trippy visual spectacle, with reimagined Khmer classics alongside their own originals like Not Easy Rock’n’Roll, Have Visa No Have Rice, and Whisky Cambodia, from five albums since 2009. Come see why the mix has wowed audiences in bars, rock festivals and theatres across Asia, Europe and Australia, and led to collaborations with the likes of Paul Kelly, Motown legend Denis Coffey, and The Herd MC Ozi Battla (Astronomy Class).

Hanuman Spaceman brings together a team of artists and producers between Cambodia and Australia to create a shape-shifting music theatre work for the twenty-first century.

in 2014, the team made a first draft version working in collaboration with Khmer Cultural Development Institute, which runs an amazing school teaching traditional music and dance to orphaned children in Kampot, Cambodia.

In May 2015, we worked in residence at Casula Powerhouse in western Sydney, in collaboration with local Khmer musicians & dancers from Khmer Community of NSW Inc, to develop the work further and present this first draft for a short public season under the title Cosmic Cambodia.

Full Creative Team

Conceived by Julien Poulson & Kak Channthy
Director & Designer Carlos Gomes
Producer Harley Stumm (Intimate Spectacle)
Video & Animation Samuel James
Sound Design Mute Speaker (Rob O’Hara)

The Cambodian Space Project Performers

Vocal: Kak Channthy
Guitar: Julien Poulson
Bass: Sophea Bass
Drums: Bong Sak
Dancers: The Spacettes (Khen Vanthy & Khen Vanthurn)
Chapei Dong Veng: Master Kong Nay

Khmer Community of NSW Inc: Khmemara Angkor Dance & Traditional Music Group

Roneat & Yike: Toeum Min
Khim: Yoeung Srey
Tro: Soth Tek

Annabel Hom, Jennifer Hong, Lisa Nagatsuka, Isabella Nagatsuka, Jessica Sa, Edrea Thon, Marie Thon

Cyclo & Rocket Pilot: Sovanna Hom
Costume: Mara Hom
Hair Kosal: Nhim
Make-up: Bunmao Syromahos

Production Team
Lighting Design & Production: Mark Haslam
Sound Engineer: Phil Downing
Stage Manager: Katia Molino
Master Kong Nay footage filmed by: Marc Eberle

Contributors to creative development at Khmer Cultural Development Institute

Founder: Catherine Geach
Education Director: Nguon Sothy
Musicians          Uon Sambo, Ros Samoeun, Khuon Bem, Vy Lida, Sorn Minea, Nov Seangheng, Sin Sokun
Dancers          Nhan Daneth, Soeun Tep, Ser Soeun, Born Deur, Phat Srey Dy, Pong Chanthea, Sarofany
Audiovisual Design & Mix            Marc Eberle & Stijn Deprez
Puppets & Props Design             Tom Whittaker
Project Coordination: Katharina Glynne & Heng Visal

Production History

Premiered Khmer Cultural Development Institute, Kampot Cambodia, Oct-Nov 2014
Casula Powerhouse, Sydney, May 2015
Sydney Festival, January 2016
World Theatre Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse, February 2016
OzAsia Festival, Adelaide Festival Centre, October 2016

Photography Credits

Photography by Katy Green Loughrey for Casula season.

Acknowledging David Rosenberger for wide stage shot in Kampot season.