Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — A new tuồng (classical drama) show, the brainchild of a Vietnamese and Singaporean director, will be performed at Pohang Bada International Festival in South Korea in August 2017.
In May, Việt Nam’s Tuồng Theatre worked with Doctor Chua Soo Pong from Singapore to create Dưới Bóng Đa Huyền Thoại (Under the Legendary Banyan Tree). It has been performed in Hà Nội throughout this summer at Hồng Hà Theatre (also known as Việt Nam’s Tuồng Theatre), at 51A Đường Thành Street.
This collaboration is part of the theatre’s efforts to increase cultural exchanges and to integrate with ASEAN countries as well as other countries around the world.
The script was written by Lê Thế Song, inspired by Doctor Chua Soo Pong’s The Haunted Temple.
“It is a great honour to be invited by the Việt Nam Tuồng Theatre’s director Phạm Ngọc Tuấn to stage The Legendary Banyan Tree. It was a rewarding experience to work with distinguished artists of the theatre after watching their performances for many years,” Dr Chua said.
“I really did not encounter any difficulty as the Tuồng Theatre has a wonderful team of artists who are dedicated and willing to put in extra hard work to achieve artistic excellence. Tuồng shares many aesthetic principles of traditional theatre genres that I have worked with, like Chinese opera, Japanese kabuki, and Indonesian wayang wong. When I demonstrate the movements desired for a particular scene, they immediately understand the quality of movements needed. And we refine them together,” he said.
“I hope that this play can also attract young public as it is staged in a new way,” he added.
The piece is a story about a thousand year old banyan tree which is personified, with its branches, leaves, and trunk having souls.
Dr Chua said that he has had long been passionate about tuồng, in particular after he watched the Việt Nam’s famed play Nghêu Sò Ốc Hến (Oyster, Snail and Mussels) which was performed at China - ASEAN Theatre Festival in 2016 in China.
“After I watched some performances of Vietnamese tuồng artists, I see that this art form can be easily integrated with the international stage, from music, dancing to the way the actors express their feelings through their facial expression and gestures.”
“I saw that the public from different countries including China, Thailand, Myanmar amd Indonesia were excited to watch the Việt Nam’s play Nghêu Sò Ốc Hến (Oyster, Snail and Mussels). They laughed at funny scenes in the show without understanding the conversation between characters. They understood the show despite the language barrier. That’s why I had the idea to stage this new piece and to bring this magnificent art form of Việt Nam to the world,” he said.
Dr Chua completed his master’s and doctorate degrees in anthropology and ethnomusicology in the UK. His works have been performed on nearly 80 international stages in the world. — VNS