HA NOI — For the first time, this year's National Drama Festival in the central city of Hue is presenting only works on serious contemporary social issues.
|Social conscience: Actress Thanh Van (left) in the play Working. — Photo Hoang Ho
"We want to encourage theatres to stage plays that speak directly to current social issues," said Vuong Duy Bien, director of the culture ministry's Performing Arts Department. "It is not necessary to tell an old story to indirectly criticise current society."
Among the hits at this year's festival, the play Toi Ac Quyen Luc (Crimes of Power) is being performed in two different productions, one by Sai Gon Stage directed by stage veteran Tran Ngoc Giau and another by the Viet Nam Stage Arts Preservation and Development Centre.
The play tells the story of a tragedy caused by a provincial People's Committee chairman, and the Sai Gon Stage production in particular has been a surprise hit with festival audiences.
"Giau sets up the play by his own way," said critic Nguyen Thi Minh Thai. "He breathes new life into the original work. Dialogue in the play reflects the conflict between power and fame, ideal and sacrifice. His intent in directing the play is very clear and consistent."
Two productions from the Phu Nhuan Stage theatre group, Lam (Working) and Nuoc Mat Nguoi Dien (Madman's Tears), have shocked the audiences with sexual scenes. Lam, the title of which refers to working as a prostitute, is a new work produced for the festival, while Madman's Tears was a hit in HCM City theatres a few years ago.
Audiences have lauded the performance of actress Thanh Van in Lam, whose performance navigates a number of difficult sexual scenes, helping her emerge as the star of this year's festival.
However, it is the play Am Binh (Soldiers in Hell), performed by actors from the HCM City College of Cinema and Stage, that is expected to grab the gold medal at the festival, with audiences particularly impressed by director Xuan Hong's staging of Nguyen Quang Vinh's play.
"The play is creative, with great details; it's new, attractive and very impressive," said critic Le Quy Hien.
On stage, a sand painter plays an old tree sitting and painting, and cast member Hoang Yen credits him for much of the success of the production.
This year's festival has drawn about 20 theatre groups, mostly from HCM City and Ha Noi, with 26 plays. Ten plays were produced entirely with money from public donations. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded on Saturday night. — VNS