“Cambodian Rock Band” Traces a Musical Line Back to Genocide of 1970s


“Cambodian Rock Band,” a musical play by Lauren Yee, is now showing at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. It explores a father’s efforts to shield his daughter from the darker truths of his experiences during the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s, and, most crucially, to prevent her from learning things about him that might result in him losing her love. At the same time, his daughter is working with the ICTJ in legal efforts to bring the aged leaders of the Khmer Rouge to justice.

These days, most Westerners think of Cambodia as a tourist destination, but Lee’s play serves as a powerful reminder of the horrific events that unfolded in Cambodia in the wake of the Vietnam War, and of the emotional baggage carried by at least some of the approximately 276,000 Cambodian immigrants who found refuge in the United States.

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