Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — The cải lương (reformed opera) historical play, Trung Thần (Loyalist), a well-known production by scriptwriter Hoàng Song Việt, will be performed in a new version designed to attract younger audiences.
The 90-minute tragedy depicts the controversial life and death of Lê Văn Duyệt, a national hero who contributed to the growth of South Việt Nam in the 19th century.
Duyệt was born in 1764 in Tiền Giang Province’s Cù Lao Hổ (now Hòa Khánh Village). He began his career by supporting Emperor Gia Long (Nguyễn Phúc Ánh), founder of the Nguyễn Dynasty, when he was 17.
Trung Thần focuses on the period between 1813 and 1820, when Duyệt was the commander of Gia Định Citadel, which included Biên Hòa City and the present-day HCM City.
Besides working to build dike and irrigation systems, he was known for his military talent and fight against corrupt officials and sycophantic courtiers.
Thanks to Duyệt’s management, Gia Định developed into a populous and prosperous area.
Directed by Meritorious Artist Hoa Hạ, the play is staged by veteran artists Trường Sơn, Tú Sương and Lê Tứ, who have worked with younger actors Võ Minh Lâm, Điền Trung and Lê Trung Thao on the production.
The performance is part of a new drama project called Tôi Yêu Cải Lương (I Love Cải Lương), launched by HCM City Theatre Association in co-operation with IDECAF Stage, one of the region’s leading private drama troupes.
The project will offer historical shows at affordable prices, ranging from VNĐ100,000 (US$4.5) to 200,000 ($9) a ticket, to attract audiences, particularly students and labourers.
It has attracted cải lương stars such as People’s Artist Kim Cương and Lệ Thủy, and Meritorious Artist Minh Vương, top talents who have developed cải lương for more than four decades.
“Our project Tôi Yêu Cải Lương preserves cải lương by restaging famous plays which have been performed by different generations. We want to offer quality performances for young people and encourage them to learn more about traditional theatre,” said Huỳnh Anh Tuấn, director of IDECAF Stage, one of the project’s founders.
Tuấn and his staff have worked with several organisations and sponsors that invested in the project.
“After staging Trung Thần, we will release two plays on social problems written by Trần Hữu Trang staged in the 1930s by cải lương pioneers Phùng Há and Út Trà Ôn, both of which received the title of People’s Artist from the Government,” he said.
The first show of Trung Thần will be staged on August 26 at Bến Thành Theatre at 6 Mạc Đĩnh Chi Street in District 1. It will be staged every Saturday and Sunday through September.
More than 200 free tickets are available at the HCM City Theatre Association at 5B Võ Văn Tần Street in District 3.— VNS