Young trio inspire people's love folk arts with new book

June 29, 2022 - 09:01

An English-Vietnamese book by a group of young artists in HCM City features 30 folk music genres, theatrical performing arts and six traditional festivals of Việt Nam. 

Ngô Mỹ Triều Giang is one of three-member group making the bilingual book Gánh Hát Lưu Diễn Muôn Phương. Photo coutersy of Ngô Mỹ Triều Giang

An English-Vietnamese book by a group of young artists in HCM City features 30 folk music genres, theatrical performing arts and six traditional festivals of Việt Nam. 

Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình interviews Ngô Mỹ Triều Giang, one of the compilers of the book. 

Could you introduce the book? how was it compiled?

Gánh Hát Lưu Diễn Muôn Phương, aka Worldwide Tour of Vietnamese Troupes, is an art book that illustrates 36 types of performance arts and traditional folk festivals throughout Việt Nam. 

The performance arts are introduced with modern, fresh and lively graphics with succinct and concise narrations. There are two main parts; performance arts and traditional folk festivals. 

The idea began with Hồ Phương Thảo, the author of the book, from her interest in Vietnamese folk arts. Thảo gathered her own experiences and research, and then Nguyễn Hoàng Tấn, the artist of the book, drew the illustrations. When the book has the main contents, I edited and translated them into English.

Could you introduce yourself and your group?

Thảo, 30, is the author and wrote the main contents. She is also in charge of image orientation for the project. She is a human resource manager for a private company in HCMC.

Tấn, 25, is the illustrator of the project. He is working as a freelance illustrator making covers and art books for many projects.

I am 29 years old. I am the translator as well as editor of the contents of the book. I am working as a legal executive of a real estate company in HCM City.

Why did your group compile the book? What is the purpose? 

All members of our group have a passion for the traditional culture of Việt Nam. At first, it was just the notes Thảo kept in her personal diary as she loved folk performance arts. As for me, I have studied history and culture since I was still a child.

Through this project, we hope the art book will provide basic knowledge and inspiration for readers to love more and more traditional performance arts and folk festivals of Việt Nam. And if they have the opportunity, they will have more motivation to visit and enjoy the live performance.

What difficulties did you face when translating?

I find many difficult to translate Vietnamese folk terms such as "đào", "kép", "liền anh" or "liền chị". The names of our traditional instruments are also hard to translate such as "tính tẩu", "chũm chọe" or "trống cơm".

I had a headache choosing the suitable words in English for the skills of the singers and musicians or our traditional clothes. I searched and read a lot of musical terms in English. I also researched more to understand the meaning of folk terms or the description of the instruments or the clothes to translate. I'm also quite confused with the words translated into English, they are used popularly but it is wrong.

For example, if you search "đờn ca tài tử" on Google, the common result will be "southern amateur music", however "tài tử" in "đờn ca tài tử" does not mean "amateur". They are "people who are talented". The biggest difficulty was the name of the book. I spend a lot of time considering it. 

Do you know how the book is received by readers?

Thảo brought 28 postcards of Gánh Hát to participate in the Tóc Xanh Vạt Áo Event on January 10, 2021, at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities of HCM City. The programme started at 8am, Thảo and our friends were there at 7am to prepare.

At around 7.45am, a reader came and looked at our Gánh Hát postcards for a long time, then he himself introduced that he was working at UNESCO institute and wanted to buy the whole set of postcards to introduce to his friends abroad. He also pointed out where our illustration was wrong.

We also received similar feedback from many friends, readers, and experts about the contents as well as pictures in the art book. They are very interested in the book. Some readers ordered 10 or even 15 books as gifts for their friends or used the book for their presentations at the university.

Besides, we received support from the Department of Culture and Sports of HCM City, as well as magazines, newspapers and TV stations. 

We really appreciate that. That is the best recognition for our book.

What is your next project?

We intend to update our project and release some derivative products from the artbook every year on the occasion of the Stage Ancestor Anniversary.

The closest plan will be the board game Gánh Hát Lưu Diễn by the author Nguyên Trường (Founder of Ludos Games and the author of the series The Mystery of the Werewolf Village) this year. The game rules will base on the contents of the art book Gánh Hát Lưu Diễn Muôn Phương.

We will also participate in the projects about Vietnamese culture if there is a suitable invitation for us. For the new project, we are considering. We want to prepare carefully before starting something new. VNS