German director Dominik Gunther is co-ordinating with Ha Noi based Youth Theatre to stage the play Fisherman and a Golden Fish.
The play is a combination of a fairy tale by Brothers Grimm and Vietnamese folk literature.
This is the second joint effort of the noted director with the theatre. Last year, they worked on The Caucasian Chalk Circle by German master playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956).
Eight years ago, Gunther founded the Neandertal Theatre in a Hamburg neighbourhood. Since September 2005, he has been a lecturer on set and role study at the Schauspiel-Studio Frese in Hamburg.
He chats with Culture Vulture about his second co-work in Ha Noi:
What are the theatrical methods you applied in this play?
This is a play for children. They are the most difficult audience because their reaction is always like the truth. If they are bored, they will express their boredom by getting loud and noisy. They want to be entertained really well. That is why I want to apply more actions on the stage that actors have to work more. They work with their bodies, with not too much of talking because it will be boring. In this play, we have a big fish and big puppets in the play as I think children are very impressed with this style. It is really an action play, but it is also important to attract the children's parents as well. So, it is really difficult to combine all these interests.
What do you think about Vietnamese artists' capabilities?
The actors are people I got to know last year. Now this year, I am very happy that I have such strong actors who are really good with their body language as well. So I can do a lot of difficult things with them and they are really open to working with me and are willing to try my German style where they have to be really strong all the time. It is a lot of fun with these actors and I am really proud to be able to work with them.
The Goethe Institute worked with me to choose this play for children. I then worked with the German Youth Theatre, which is the biggest Youth Theatre there. We found the fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm's collection, The Fisher and His Wife. And interestingly, there is the similar story already popular in Viet Nam, titled The Fisher and the Gold Fish. So we combined them and made one play.
The most difficult part is that I cannot speak Vietnamese, so I cannot communicate with the actors directly. However, since we really like each other and have a good time we do not have much of a problem.
Were you satisfied with last year's play [The Caucasian Chalk Circle]?
I was really satisfied with the result of last year's play. A lot of people came to the shows last year. I spoke to many people and they said they were very impressed with my style. I was very happy that I did a play that the Hanoians really liked. Thinking about it always gives me a good feeling all the time. I took the video to Germany and the German people also liked the work.
What are your impressions of Viet Nam?
This is my second time in Viet Nam. Last year, everything was new and I was excited. This time, everything is easier because it is like I am coming home to this theatre. Everybody was happy that I was coming back and I am happy to see them again. I am very glad that they invited me again.
What do you think about the future of co-operation between Vietnamese and German artists in theatrical art?
I am really looking forward to the day when Vietnamese artistes come to Germany so that we can work together on some project. They can see the theatre there. I am not sure whether it will be their first time, but I want to start something that I hope we will have a future working together for the next few years. And you never know of course. — VNS