HA NOI — Truyen Kieu (The Tale of Kieu), the national epic poem written by Nguyen Du in the 18th century, has been staged by the Youth Theatre's experimental theatre group as a theatre piece using a combination of contemporary and traditional forms.
|A story of sacrifice: Scenes from the experimental play Nguyen Du voi Truyen Kieu, based on the epic poem Tale of Kieu by Nguyen Du. — Photo courtesy Youth Theatre
In the piece, entitled Nguyen Du voi Kieu (Nguyen Du and Kieu), performers use body movements in combination with music and lights to tell the story of Thuy Kieu, a beautiful and talented young woman who sacrificed herself to save her father and younger brother from prison, selling herself into marriage with a middle-aged man who then forced her into prostitution.
People's artist Lan Huong, the script writer and director, imagined some details, creating two new characters: poet Nguyen Du (1766-1820) and his contemporary, poet Ho Xuan Huong. The play begins with Xuan Huong coming to see Nguyen Du in his house as he is writing the 3,000-verse Truyen Kieu.
All of the actors remain silent, but sometimes the verses in the poem resound, helping express the characters' mental states. The verses are sometimes recited, sometimes sung in cheo (traditional opera) or in hat van (religious singing). The play also includes elements of ca Hue (Hue folk singing), cai luong (renovated opera) and pop music with some well-known songs by young Vietnamese singers. In the play, Kieu turns into a Goddess of Mercy with a thousand eyes and a thousands hands, a change that has sparked some controversy. But Huong asserts that the change symbolises her sacrifice and sense of filial duty.
The play premiered last week but will be performed again on March 26 at the Youth Theatre, 11 Ngo Thi Nham Street. — VNS