When Kumbhakar Swallowed a Dead Dog : A Diasporic Rendering of the Reamker

Date of Award


Document Type

MSU-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


College of the Arts


Theatre and Dance

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Elizabeth McPherson

Committee Member

Apollinaire Scherr

Committee Member

Claire Porter


Part performance, part lecture-demonstration, and part modern ritual, When Kumbhakar Swallowed a Dead Dog is a postmodern interpretation of an episode of the Reamker, the Cambodian version of the Indian epic Ramayana. In this written thesis, I lay out the foundational material for my work, consisting of a summary of the epic’s narratives and interpretations pertaining to its structure and symbolism, as well as an overview of three major dance theatre forms in Cambodia: shadow puppet theatre (sbaek thom), all-male masked dance-theatre (lkhon khol), and classical court dance (robam kbach boran). An account of the methodology employed and creative process follows, in which I include influences related to the contemporary climate change crisis, black and white cinema, and my experiences studying Cambodian dance theater forms. I conclude with a description and a short analysis of the performance, its impact on audiences, and relevance for my current choreographic practice.


The performance video is restricted to the Montclair State University community but the PDF file of the thesis, which is located at the bottom of the screen, is available to anyone interested in reading it.

File Format


Phuon, Emmanuele_Redacted.pdf (3182 kB)
PDF file of thesis

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