Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — A run of sold-out performances at the Hanoi Opera House this month, featuring award-winning plays and the capital’s leading actors, have experts hoping for a revival of Viet Nam’s theatrical heritage.
During August, the Hanoi Opera House has hosted eleven popular plays that have won prizes at national and international contests, by artists from five leading troupes in the capital city.
The plays are part of last year’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism directive to bring high quality art performances back to the prestigious venue.
All three performances of two theatre pieces Kiều (The Tale of Kiều) and Lão Hà Tiện (Molière’s The Miser) by actors of the Việt Nam National Drama Theatre were hailed as a success, with tickets sold out days before the curtains opened.
Many tickets were brought by the FLC Hạ Long Company, and offered to loyal clients as a way of thanks. A large number were snapped up by theatre-lovers directly from the Opera House box office.
Nguyễn Thị Minh Nguyệt, the Opera house’s director said “This year has been better than last year. More people came directly to the Hanoi Opera House to buy tickets. Many were excited by the performances from the Việt Nam National Drama Theatre, Youth Theatre of Việt Nam, and Hanoi Drama Theatre. On an average evening, we could sell up to VNĐ30 million (US$1,300) worth of tickets.”
The renewed public interest in these shows can be explained by efforts to put on more high-quality performances and a number of PR campaigns by the theatre and actors.
Press conference was held at the Hanoi Opera House to present the plays to the media with well-known theatre actors participated. Social media platforms, including Facebook, was put to good use in promoting the stories and characters to draw the attention of fans. Theatres are starting to see the benefit in using social networks to promote new plays and allow exchanges between artists and audiences.
“I was very interested in watching the play Lão Hà Tiện (The Miser). As a literature teacher, I was curious to see how this masterpiece of French literature was adapted into a Vietnamese theatre piece. I paid VNĐ400,000 (US$17) for a seat at the Hanoi Opera House, which was expensive for me, but I didn’t regret it as the play was very interesting,” said Nguyễn Hồng Nga.
While a high number of young Vietnamese people living in big cities watch foreign films at the cinema, not many are interested in visits to the theatre. One reason for the lack of interest is the high price of a theatre ticket, compared to a similar duration of entertainment at the cinema. Others complain that they’re disappointed by the lack of variety and subpar quality of the theatre pieces.
Experts admit that theatres face numerous difficulties, including competition with other forms of entertainment.
“With this programme in August, we hope to inspire more public enthusiasm and interest for theatre. I believe that theatres across the country have to unite and work together to develop the artform, ultimately strengthening the theatre,” said Xuân Bắc, deputy director of the Việt Nam National Drama Theatre.
Đào Văn Hoàng, deputy head of the culture ministry’s Performing Arts Agency, said the programme will continue, offering chances for theatres all over the country. “Beside the new best-selling plays, we will restage classics by Vietnamese and foreign playwrights like Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare, Rừng Trúc (Forest of Bamboo) by Doãn Hoàng Giang and other famous plays by Lưu Quang Vũ,” he said.
This month, with the auditorium packed to the rafters and resounding applause filling the halls, experts hope that the curtains are not coming down on Việt Nam’s theatre just yet. — VNS