While Phnom Penh may have your drinking and partying options covered, Mitsy Chanel-Blot felt her choices were limited when it came to activities that didn’t involve booze.
“I was constantly being asked to go out to a bar, or it was you either started at Bassac Lane or you end up at Pontoon,” she said.
“Dynamoverse was born out of a desire to do something different.”
While it may feature Mike Dynamo, co-MC of Hypnotic Fist Technique and lead singer of 99 Boyz, as the host, Dynamoverse is Chanel-Blot’s baby; an arts and culture event brand designed to offer new activities and experiences to the people of the Penh.
“The mission is to provide a place for friends to connect in a new way, that doesn’t necessarily or is completely based on alcohol,” Chanel-Blot said.
To that end, Chanel-Blot has crafted two fortnightly events based out of the theater space at Java Creative Café in Toul Tom Poung for punters to experience; a storytelling workshop and its staged event: Verse in Prose and a trivia gameshow night, Hate the Gameshow.
Since arriving in Phnom Penh a little under a year ago, Chanel-Blot has jumped straight into the creative scene of Phnom Penh, appearing in shows with the Phnom Penh Players, hosting Nerd Nights and everything and anything in between.
She said, while exhausting, having control over her own creative project has allowed her to wrestle some of her own demons and is thrilled to see Phnom Penhers are welcoming the idea of sharing theirs and letting off some steam.
“I have run from positions of responsibility every single time, now both of these events are really my creation and they’re my responsibility,” she said.
“I think people both like and enjoy sharing these experiences, that’s my favourite way of hanging out with people, is over a bottle of wine and shooting the shit, exchanging stories,” she said.
Played out as a cheesy gameshow with all the quips and kitsch of something straight out of primetime, Hate the Gameshow gets two teams of three to compete head to head in short rounds of Phnom Penh-based trivia, guessing games and the occasional dance offs.
While Chanel-Blot said it’s been challenging to encourage audiences to attend and participate in a concept that hasn’t really been done in Phnom Penh before, she said Hate the Gameshow is designed to bring out people’s sillier side.
“The game show is my way of trying to get your inner child in people and try and find another way to let ourselves go,” she said.
Meanwhile, Verse In Prose invites speakers up on stage to tell a personal story about an experience or time in their life that meant something to them.
“Sometimes we have stories that dominate us, that we tell ourselves that we tell about ourselves, and sometimes these stories take over,” Chanel-Blot said.
“When you own the story in order to tell it to other people, it really becomes something more; you are no longer the bird with a broken wing, you are the bird that has a scar that you can show while you’re still flying.”
While it’s not compulsory for the speakers to attend the workshop before getting up on stage, Chanel- Blot said she wanted to provide the tools for people to be able to “master their narrative” in order to provide a better sense of catharsis or closure.
Katherine Peters, who recently spoke at the session titled “Fear”, about her father’s death and PTSD she experienced in the years that followed, said she felt compelled to tell her story after seeing the first Verse in Prose event.
“I’ve always loved storytelling as an art form and I was so inspired by the speakers at the first storytelling event! They were so honest and brave,” she said via email.
Peters noted she had some trepidation telling such a personal story to a room full of strangers, but the audience’s engagement and the connection she felt with people afterward made it worthwhile.
“The audience was so supportive and really high energy, many people approached me afterwards to thank me for sharing and tell me which parts they related to,” she said.
“I’m really grateful I got the chance to connect.”