|Women's lives: A scene in Bao Gioi Song Can, a hit play directed by Ai Nhu, one of the city's most talented female theatre directors. — VNS Photo
by Thu Anh
HCM CITY (VNS) — Many people think the role of directing theatre plays is only suited to men. But the few women in HCM City involved in directing have overcome challenges and proven their ability, not only to theatre-goers, but also to their male counterparts.
Ai Nhu, for example, graduated from the acting course of the city's Theatre and Cinematography College. Before embarking on her career as a director, she performed in dozens of quality plays staged by leading drama troupes in the region.
Her first play, Dua Voi Tinh Yeu (Playing with Love), staged in 2002 was well-received by audiences.
One year later, she directed a series of plays about women and love, including Hop Dong Hon Nhan (Marriage Contract) and Bao Gio Song Can (When the River Dry).
Nhu rarely talks about her career, but notes that it is her "passion for work that has helped me overcome difficulties in this male-dominated field".
In 2004, she won the Best Theatre Director at Mai Vang (Golden Apricot) Awards presented annually by the HCM City-based newspaper Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer).
She was the first woman to receive the prize. Six years later, Nhu opened her own troupe, Hoang Thai Thanh.
Many of her actors have said that Nhu was a "great leader" when she directed them during scenes or took part in marketing and sales.
"Earning money is different from creating. I've worked hard to balance art and making profits," said the 55-year-old Nhu, who has directed more than 30 plays, with many of them box-office hits.
Her latest play, Nua Doi Huong Phan (The Flavour), based on a popular cai luong (reformed opera) production by late artists Ha Trieu and Hoa Phuong, was considered a big hit this season.
In a recent interview with local media, Nhu said that she believed "men and women are equal in the art".
Another female director, People's Artist Hong Van, began her career in theatre in 2001. She is known as the successful owner of two theatre stages, Phu Nhuan Drama Club and Hong Van Theatre.
Van's plays are about the aspirations and difficulties in women's lives. This is seen in No Than (Magic Crossbow) and Me Va Nguoi Tinh (Mother and the Lover), both of which won the golden prize for Best Play at the National Theatre Festival in 2009.
Apart from awards, many of her plays and comedies such as Nguoi Vo Ma (The Ghost Wife) and Qua Tim Mau (Bloody Heart) have also won audience acclaim.
"My staff and I want to provide audiences quality plays with both entertainment and educational value," said the 49-year-old.
Last week, Meritorious Artist Trinh Kim Chi, 43, opened her own troupe, KC Drama Stage, after 20 years of acting on stage.
A graduate of the city's Theatre and Cinematography College, Chi found success in the industry with dozens of leading roles in plays and films.
"My family and friends have supported me to develop my career as a director and a manager," Chi said.
Chi's troupe plans to offer training courses for young talents. After graduating, these actors will perform in her troupe's plays.
"I try to work carefully, even when time is limited, selecting my cast based on their talent and suitability, rather than personal feelings," Chi said. — VNS