(VNS)The Fifth Asia-Pacific Bureau Directors Conference took place early this month at the Taipei University of the Arts in Taiwan, hosting a theatre festival that drew about 200 theatre workers and students to discuss regional theatre co-operation and development, researching the relationships between the traditional and modern stage, and experimental theatre in the 21st century. Next year's conference will be held in Binh Dinh Province, Viet Nam. Director Le Quy Duong, one of the event founders, spoke to Culture Vulture about the Vietnamese stage during global integration.
What was the purpose of this conference?
The aim of the conference was to offer a platform for sharing and discussion, promoting communication and interaction between member schools. The conference included workshops, students' productions and discussions, and a directors' conference and forum.
I conducted a series of exercises using zen mediation and the five elements of fire, water, earth, wood and metal in performance. I also gave an introduction to my training centre and its pedagogical philosophy. At the directors conference, my presentation was about directing and overcoming the obstacles of traditional and modern theatre.
The festival has been held annually by the UNESCO International Theatre Institute's Asia Pacific Bureau for Theatre Schools since 2008. The biggest question is how to develop a theatre that combines the modern and the traditional. In a time of global cultural integration, how do we preserve the traditional theatrical heritage of each nation?
Theatre is always a contemporary art, but creativity must be from a traditional foundation. Traditional values need to be preserved. After attending the conference, I think that training the new generation of young artists must be based on quintessence of the traditional stage. Young artists must be well acquainted with existing values to have their own values.
Methodologies of theatre education are important. At the festival, we had a lot of discussions about training methods which will enable student to obtain solid professional knowledge and creativity ability meeting the demands of integration. Conservative and out-of-date principles of the traditional stage need to be broken down with a view to developing the stage in general and experimental stage in particular.\
How will the conference help theatrical education in the region?
The conference was held in short time, but we worked hard to discuss training methodologies. We also watched student performances and discussed each of them. A panorama of Asian-Pacific stage heritage and tradition was unfolded.
Almost of us recognised that, in recent years, the Asian stage has been absorbed into Western traditions. Yet the Western stage has also absorbed the quintessence of Asian theatre, proving its vitality.
Playwright Le Duy Hanh has also said that training methodology in Viet Nam is out of date. What needs to change?
First, interaction between trainer and trainee should be changed. In Viet Nam, the existing conception is that only the trainer is right. The trainer sets the standard and his students have to follow him. But I think that the trainer should be on a more equal level to the trainee. He has a mission to introduce, encourage and direct the trainee, while the trainee has the right to select and orient and create by themselves. This is a method that will stimulate creativity.
A lots of work need to be done to change Vietnamese stage. Not only training method but practise methodology must be changed. — VNS