by Thu Anh
The joy of making children
Red flags flew full mast under a blue sky and small horses darted about.
This was part of a beautiful stage backdrop set up by young performers of the Cau Vong Tuoi Tho (Childhood Rainbow), an entertainment programme performing music, comedy and puppet shows for underprivileged children.
The programme is carried out by the HCM City Cinema and Performance Company.
Soon after after the stage was set up, nearly 500 children and teenagers from local shelters and open houses turned up at the city's Opera House.
They screamed and laughed, and later spoke with the singers, dancers and puppeteerss, who had volunteered to make their day brighter through music and art.
Although the spotlight shone brightly on the stage, the performers were equally dazzled by the audience, especially disabled children like Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, a 11-year-old girl with heart disease from Thien Duyen, an open house located in Cu Chi District.
Thuy, facing such a tough challenge so early in her life, inspired and the won the admiration of everyone with her courage and attitude.
"Nothing can make my friends and I happier than to participate in Cau Vong Tuoi Tho."We laughed at cai luong (reformed theatre) star Bach Long and his artists. We also sang and danced following our music idols Dam Vinh Hung and Duong Trieu Vu," she said.
For Thuy and many others in the audience, the show allowed them to dream of beautiful things despite their disadvantaged circumstances.
"After bringing Cau Vong Tuoi Tho to the children last Sunday, our artists wished we could give these kids everything they dream of," said Huu Luan, deputy director of the Cinema and Performance Company.
As one of the programme's creators, Luan is making good on a promise to "sweeten the lives of little angels." He and his staff spared no effort to put on the best show possible with brilliant sound and light effects.
Cau Vong Tuoi Tho will be staged for free twice every month. It has attracted dozens of artists in different genres who hope their art can bring smiles to the faces of their young, special fans.
Luan said his company has received a lot of support from both the public and authorities since. It was not surprising, he said, because "all of us share a love of children".
Tattoos gain traction
Once looked down upon as a marker of crime or other things unsavoury, tattoos have now a become "cool" and a "must have" feature, especially for young people in the showbiz industry, for whom they are something to show off.
Movie star and singer Ngo Thanh Van visited a tattoo artist based in Bangkok, famous for giving Hollywood star Angelina Jollie the tattoo in Cambodian script. The tattoo on her left shoulder took several hours to complete, but Van was a happier person later.
Many young women choose images of the star and butterfly, seeing these as symbols of their artistic temperament. Pop star Thuy Tien has several tattoos on her body, including a small star on her wrist.
Nguyen Dinh Tu, a tattoo artist living in District 5, said he often depicts wild animals like tigers and eagles for his customers, mostly youngsters. He said tattoos are mostly wanted by young people "aspiring to look like playgirls and playboys.
"Bar girls like having a flying bat tattooed on their shoulders because bats are nocturnal creatures like them. Ladykillers, on the other hand, opt for the image of a mermaid, because they belive it symbolises their sex appeal."
Hoang Anh Tuan, sales official for an international bank located in District 1, has two tattoos in Nom (traditional Vietnamese script) on his ankle, but has taken flak from his family and relatives. "It is a Vietnamese belief that only bad guys own tattoos. My parents and elderly relatives think I look like a gangster now."
"Tattoo is my hobby. It says nothing bad about my personality," he asserted. — VNS