by Thu Anh
Circus troupes in the limelight again after long absence
After years of taking a back seat to cinemas and karaoke parlours, circus artists in HCM City have returned to local theatres with new acts.
Over the last 10 weeks, about 50,000 children watched the HCM City Circus Troupe perform at the September 23 Park in District 1.
City youth, increasingly lured to TV, computer games and cinemas, were being re-introduced to the wonderful world of animals and clowns.
"I liked the performances of the little monkeys and dogs. I burst out laughing at the clowns with the big red noses," said Phan Thai An, a nine-year girl from District 3 who saw the variety show last weekend.
Bich Lien, a hoop dancer with the Phuong Nam Art Theatre, one of the city's prestigious circus troupes, says it is hard for the general public to understand the amount of work and commitment needed to perform well.
Most of the troupe's circus artists try to create new acts and practise for hours each day, she says.
Lien won a gold medal on July 8 for her performance at the two-week Circus International Festival in Kazakhstan.
"It takes more than two years to train for a complete circus act. For a 20-minute performance on stage, we have to practice up to 12 hours a day," she says.
"We know circuses are not as popular as they used to be, but if we can fill our theatre, so that's enough for us. Playing to a thousand or more people gives us a great buzz," Lien says.
Casting companies on the lookout for new film stars
For aspiring thespians, the chance of getting discovered has increased considerably as dozens of entertainment companies in HCM City are now on the hunt for promising new film stars.
For Ba Vu, who started a casting business after gaining experience in the film industry, years of hard work have paid off.
"I felt it was the right timing to open my company because the local film industry has been changing and has become more professional," said Vu, owner of Tri Viet Film Agency, the first casting company in HCM City.
The company selects actors and negotiates contracts for filmmakers and actors. It also provides filmmaking services for foreign companies.
The innovative director recalled a day in 2000 when he selected Vietnamese actors for Australian director Phillip Noyce of The Quiet American, the first big-budget Hollywood film to be shot in Viet Nam.
"I have gained many valuable lessons from foreign professionals. Now, I can run my own company, even though I have faced challenges," Vu said.
Vu's customers include talented directors Luu Trong Ninh, Ho Quang Minh and Le Hoang, all of whom prefer to work with casting experts like Vu because they need fresh, attractive faces for their productions.
Vu said that while some directors wanted only amateur actors, many others preferred those who were more skilled.
"When selecting lead actors, we consider many factors such as suitability for the role and box-office appeal," he added.
Vu's competitor, Vu Quang Minh of Viet Casting Company, said one of the pleasures of the business was to see a previously unknown actor become a movie star. — VNS