by Thu Anh
Children's theatre programme celebrates 15th anniversary
HCM City's leading private drama troupe, IDECAF Stage, entertains and educates children year after year. This season, they are preparing to stage the musical Nang Cong Chua Di Lac (The Lost Princess), featuring songs and colourful images.
The play is about a princess and the magical adventures and obstacles she encounters in her life. Parents and their kids will surely be captivated by the opening show at Ben Thanh Theatre next week.
Cong Chua Di Lac is part of Ngay Xua Ngay Xua (Once Upon a Time), a theatre programme for children begun in 1997 by IDECAF.
The programme has attracted nearly 50,000 people, including several thousand disadvantaged children around the city who have received free tickets.
"We spent a lot on Nang Cong Chua Di Lac to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our theatre's birthday," said the show's director Vu Minh. "Young audiences will scream and laugh at our skilled performers and singers."
Minh's costume designers worked hard on more than 100 items of clothing, accessories and interior design.
A series of 13 songs were also composed to suit the play's theme.
More than 30 veteran and young actors such as Thanh Loc, My Duyen and Gia Bao will display skills in music, dance, pantomime and circus tricks.
"I asked my parents to go to the play. I'm really excited by it," said Tran Thi Hai Yen, a fourth-grade student at Tran Van On Primary School.
IDECAF's art director Thanh Loc, said the city has few shows for youth, particularly younger children.
"We've worked under a lot of pressure so that we can produce a play for children and their parents as well," he said.
Loc is a bit like a child himself, and knows what children want to see on stage.
"A stage is a channel for dreams and legends. We want to create theatre for young audiences so they can enjoy themselves and discover the world," he said.
Water-puppetry troupes lose youth to modern distractions
A family trip to see the traditional art of water puppetry could soon become a thing of the past as Vietnamese youth now favour surfing the Internet, playing video games, and listening to pop music.
Huynh Anh Tuan, owner of the private theatre Rong Vang Water Puppet in HCM City, whose performers have entertained thousands of audiences, says she has seen fewer and fewer crowds in recent years.
Still, many puppeteers are reluctant to quit the stage for fear of not making enough money in another walk of life.
"For only a 20-minute performance in water, we have spent more than two years of training," said Tran Hoan, of Viet Nam Puppet Theatre, who began his professional career at 21 and has won several prizes at puppet festivals.
"My job is very demanding. The acts must be changed quickly and done with precision while the performers stand in water," he said.
Hoan and his peers are also involved in both film and theatre, working as backstage workers or assistants in casting and clothing.
Tuan and his staff at Rong Vang are hopeful about the future, though.
"We provide the audience with quality performances," he said. "The problem is that the world is developing very fast but water puppet performances are the same as a decade ago."
Rong Vang offers performances every Saturday and Sunday at VND50,000 (US$2.5) a ticket.
The theatre's managing board has also worked with local and foreign tourist agencies to introduce their art to visitors and with many schools, offering free shows for students.
"We have spent a lot to improve our show's quality and promote our business as well," Tuan said.
Soon they will be performing abroad as the theatre has signed a contract with its partner, Kids Entertainment, to tour in Canada and the US for five weeks. A group of 14 artists will stage 60 shows. — VNS