|Old vs. new: A scene from Doi Nhu Y, a play by the HCM City-based Tran Huu Trang Theatre about modern problems, that will compete in the 2015 National Professional Cai Luong Festival in Bac Lieu City. — Photo thegioinghesi.com
HCM CITY (VNS) — The national cai luong (reformed opera) competition opens in Bac Lieu city on Friday.
Organised every five years by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the National Professional Cai Luong Festival has this time attracted 30 theatres and troupes, including seven private troupes, mostly from Binh Dinh and Long An provinces and HCM City, Da Nang, and Can Tho.
The HCM City-based Tran Huu Trang Theatre, one of the region's biggest, is set to unveil a new style by staging contemporary social plays Chien Binh (The Soldier), Lau Dai Cat (Sand Castle) and Doi Nhu Y (Hope for A Happy Life).
Directed by Phan Quoc Kiet, Doi Nhu Y highlights the challenges urban people face in preserving the country's traditional values amid modernity.
It features a group of young performers.
The city's Theatre Association has also used young actors for its historical entry titled Trung Than (Loyalist).
Directed by Meritorious Artist Hoa Ha, the play is about the royal secrets of the Nguyen Dynasty.
Taking on rivals from State-owned theatres, actors from private troupe Sao Minh Beo are pinning their hopes on an old legend. Trang Lam Quan (Head of the Village) is a tragicomedy based on several popular Vietnamese legends titled Trang Quynh ( A legendary wit living in the 18th century).
Directed by Meritorious Artist Pham Do Ky, it is based on the story of a young man who leads his villagers against landowners.
The play borrows from old stories to highlight today's social issues.
"We have invested VND500 million (US$22,000) in making the stage with costumes and sound and light effects," Hong Quang Minh, 39, the troupe's owner, who plays a leading role, said.
Minh uses a troupe to perform live music on stage instead of playing recorded music, which is the norm in cai luong.
He has also invited 60 students from theatre schools and drama clubs to accompany his own 20 actors.
The host city's Cao Van Lau Theatre, the contest venue, will stage its latest productions Dao Duy Tu, Que Huong Va Me (The Country and Mother), and Bong Bien (The Sea).
While Dao Duy Tu is based on the life of Dao Duy Tu, the great scholar, poet and military advisor who served under the Nguyen Dynasty, Que Huong Va Me and Bong Bien both examine social conflicts.
Festival organisers said artists would vie for awards for best play, best director, best scriptwriter, and best actor.
"To prepare for the festival, we have spent a lot of effort, time, and money on the stage, with beautiful costumes and sound and light effects," Khuu Minh Chien, head of Cao Van Lau, said.
"All our artists have also worked hard to get into the characters they play in an effort to draw theatre lovers back to cai luong, one of the country's three traditional arts along with tuong (classical drama) of the central region and cheo (traditional opera) of the north."
The festival will also see forums and seminars on the art in which traditional art and music researchers and critics will take part.
They will discuss ways to preserve and popularise the art of cai luong among youth.
The festival will go on until November 23. — VNS