|Play it right: A scene from the play Lau Dai Cat (Sand Castle) put on by the Viet Nam National Drama Theatre, which won a gold medal at the 2015 National Theatrical Arts Contest. — Photo nhahatkichvietnam.vn
THANH HOA (VNS) — The 2015 National Theatrical Arts Contest, which concluded on Monday, showed not just the diversity of Viet Nam's performing arts community, but also the problems that have been facing it for decades.
Some of the 29 entries from 19 theatres were inspired by war, like Thoi Gian Khong Im Lang (Time Does not Keep Silent), Lau Dai Cat (The Sand Castle) and Khat Vong Cua Nhung Linh Hon (The Aspiration of Spirits).
Other entries aimed to entertain but tried to convey a message, like Vu Nu (Female Dancers), Cong Me Di Choi (Carry Mother on Back to Go Out) and 49 Ngay Yeu (49 Days of Love).
Despite limited support, many theatres throughout the country still entered the contest on their own budgets, like the recently established Sao Minh Beo Company.
"The most important reason for my group to join the contest is our aspiration to confirm our abilities and our dedication to the arts, and seek support," said Khac Duy, the contest's youngest director.
However, the arts have encountered a perennial problem: their lack of confidence in young artists. Many actors who long to experiment and show what they're made of are not given space on the stage.
For example, notable directors like Minh Beo and Ngoc Trinh are in their 40s, while Duy was the only director in his 20s to take part.
According to actress Kim Oanh, theatres from the north want to succeed so badly that they won't give young directors a chance.
"Even member of our jury is older," Oanh said. "Though they are experienced, I wonder if they thoroughly understand the lifestyle and feelings of young artists nowadays. I see that 30 per cent of the members of jury in international contests are young people. If it were similar in Viet Nam, I think more young directors would participate in the contest."
Another problem that arose is a gap between the quality of the plays performed by theatrical groups in bigger cities and in rural, less accessible areas.
Viet Nam desperately needs more events like this contest to reinvigorate actors and their enthusiasm for their jobs. — VNS