Inspired by real life events, Buffalo Boy tells the story of Thouen as he leaves his home where he struggles to be understood and heads in search of a place where he can express himself. We Are Epic are excited to be able to provide opportunities for Thouen to develop his artistic practice and to share his story, Buffalo Boy, with Cambodia, UK and the world.

Buffalo Boy is bigger than just Thouen

From the rice fields of Cambodia to the UK and beyond. 

Learn how We Are Epic produced our biggest international collaboration yet, it’s been over two years in the making and has involve 20+ arts practitioners from recent graduates to artists with decades of experience from Cambodia & the UK.

Phase One - The Beginning

The Buffalo Boy project started with Thouen and his determination to dance.
After a life of being ignored and being told not to speak by his family & community, Thouen had found himself drawn to dance as a way to express himself and tell his story.

In April 2017 Thouen graduated from Epic Arts’ Inclusive Arts Course, after spending two years on the course he didn’t want to go back to life in his rural village, he wanted to dance. He wanted to make a performance piece about his stories, and continue developing his artistic skills.

The Co-Directors and Managers at Epic Arts were moved by Thouen’s determination and his progress over the two year course from a shy young man who wouldn’t make eye contact with Teachers to a man now going against the grain and taking his life into his own hands.

Exploring Stories: Interviews & Choreography

 

Thouen needed to be at the heart of the storytelling and narrative of the piece and this was always going to be the case, to add more structure to the narratve the UK team had approached Rich Poynton to come on board as a writer and director. 

Rich wanted to get to know Thouen and hear his story, we were working across cultural differences, language barriers and access needs so this was easier said than done. 

Projects Manager, Hayley Holden, and Resident Choreographer, Emily Gibbs worked closely with Thouen to get his story down on paper and began to develop movement and brought in Dancer, Noth Lay to join the production.

We were there to hear Thouen, it was of the utmost importance during our conversations that we heard him, not our own preconceived ideas or misinterpretation. This may have made the process slower and led us to repeating questions but this is his story and we wanted him to tell it.

– Hayley Holden, Projects Manager, Epic Arts

Phase Two - A Cambodian Adventure

Nine months into the process, in November 2017, the creative team touched down to join to Cambodian-based creative team

Director, Richard Poynton, Producer, Lou Coleman, Music Producer, Roo Pigott and Executive Producer, Anthony Evans touched down in Kampot, Cambodia for ten days of research and development.

The structure of the piece was fleshed out and the team worked solidly in the studio, it was a unique collaboration and the team knew they were onto something special.
“We were communicating in three languages and this diversity set a wonderful slower pace, a chance to listen, to clarify and to ask questions.”

– Lou Coleman, Producer, Buffalo Boy

Scratching the Surface

The final day of the production process came and Epic Arts invited the Cambodian arts sector professionals to a scratch performance. The show ended on a high with audiences wowed and the creative team itching to develop the production with lighting, projections and further movement development.

In Cambodia, Thouen and Noth continued to refine Buffalo Boy with Emily. Epic Arts seized a few opportunities to showcase Buffalo Boy and expose Thouen to the professional demands of being a Dancer. 

The next year in Cambodia became a playground to test the performance with audiences, develop and lead creative workshops based on the performance and give the dancers time to embody their characters further whilst the UK team explored the next steps.

Find Out More...

Thouen Headshot

Thouen's Biography

Find out more about Thouen’s journey

From LHR to PNH

2 days of travelling, and Buffalo Boy R&D – Read Lou Coleman’s experience in Cambodia