HCM CITY — Kim Cuong's collection of plays, Ta On Doi (Thank You for Life), opened at the HCM City Opera House yesterday night, as the long-retired People's Artist made one last return to her beloved stage as a gesture of thanks to her myriad of fans.
|Encore: People's Artist Kim Cuong (right) is thanking her fans through a three-day collection of her plays, Ta On Doi (Thank You for Life), which opened last night at the HCM City Opera House. — VNS Photo
Fifteen years after leaving the stage to do charity work, Cuong is back to perform some of the plays that made her an icon.
"Through my show, I wanted to thank all my fans who supported my colleagues and me," the 75-year told the local media before the opening of the three-day event.
"Take me away from the stage and audiences, I'm nothing." More than 1,000 people attended the show.
Ta On Doi features Cuong in plays such as La Sau Rieng (Durian Leaf) and Huyen Thoai Me (The Legend of Mother) that she herself wrote as a paean to Vietnamese women.
"During more than 40 years in theatre, Cuong has performed in several hundred plays and recorded albums praising Vietnamese culture and lifestyle in both traditional and modern styles," the show's director, Vu Minh, said.
"Her life and art have proved the truth that a theatre artist can perform well without thinking of money and glory."
Minh and his colleagues worked hard to review the art of Cuong on stage because "her career was brightest while we were limited".
He had invited theatre stars Huu Chau and Thanh Loc, and critic-author Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc to take part in the event together with younger singers like Cam Ly and Duc Tuan.
"Cuong is my idol," folk singer Ly said. "I have taken valuable lessons from her life and career."
Born in 1937 in a traditional family in then Sai Gon (now HCM City), Cuong fell in love with cai luong (reformed theatre) because of her mother, the late talented performer Bay Nam.
She began her professional career at 17, and went on to perform with actors such as Nam Phi and Phung Ha, who are recognised as among the country's most talented cai luong stars.
In the 1960s Cuong decided to switch to the modern version of theatre, an imported genre, after learning the art, thus creating a new southern style of theatre.
She set up Kim Cuong Drama Troupe with a staff of 70 which staged dozens of quality plays on topics like love, family, and social problems.
She and her troupe worked hard and managed to make the southern-style drama popular even among cai luong (reformed theatre) fans.
Their plays highlighted the culture and lifestyles of the south.
Cuong wrote 50 plays in all, mostly about poor women.
The show proceeds will be donated to the HCM City Association in Support of Disabled People and Orphan Children, of which she is deputy chairwoman. —VNS