TRADITIONAL MUSIC: Cải lương artists have the opportunity to develop their career by participating in the Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Talented Performers 2022, a national traditional music contest organised by the HCM City Theatre Association and partners. (Photo courtesy of the organiser)
By Thu Anh
HCM CITY— More than 50 professional theatre artists will perform in the national traditional theatre contest, Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Talented Performers 2022 in HCM City in September.
The artists come from leading theatres and traditional art troupes in HCM City, Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng, and southern provinces.
Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Talented Performers 2022 is being organised by the HCM City Theatre Association and Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre, a leading troupe in the region.
“Through the contest, we want to develop the art of cải lương (reformed opera), the southern region’s most popular theatre form, and popularize further this art among audiences, particularly young people,” said actor Võ Hoài Long of HCM City, who has ten years in the industry.
Long will participate in the contest’s selection round in HCM Ciy on September 9.
He will perform two vọng cổ (nostalgic tunes) songs and one excerpt from a cải lương play.
“The organisers invited skilled performers such as People’s Artist Bạch Tuyết and Meritorious Artist Vũ Linh to train all participants and help us prepare for our performances,” said Long, adding that he will try his best to enter the final round.
Selective rounds will take place in Cần Thơ, Tiền Giang and Hà Nội from September 14 to 20.
The performance will be broadcast live on HTV9 channel, reaching millions of viewers around the country.
The final round will take place over three nights on October 14, 18 and 22 at the HCM City Opera House in District 1.
Thirty finalists will compete for five gold medals for men and women in two groups: one for artists working in theatre for five years and the other for those working at least 15 years.
Five silver medals will also be awarded. The jury will pick their Favourite Performer and Young Talent choices.
“Our contest is for only professional artists. We are working to offer new opportunities for contestants to develop and perfect their art,” said director Phan Quốc Kiệt, also director of the Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre and a member of the contest’s organising board.
“Contestants are encouraged to introduce new performance styles so that the art form can widen its reach among audiences, particularly young people,” Kiet said.
The Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Talented Performers contest was launched in 1991 and has discovered and encouraged many new talents since.
LEARNING THEIR CRAFT - Young artists from the Trần Hữu Trang Cai Lương Theatre in HCM City are working hard to improve their art, cải lương, a unique theatre of the South that began 100 years ago, by studying at colleges and universities. (Photo courtesy of Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre)
Young artists are working hard to take their art to a higher level. They improve their art, cải lương, a unique theatre of the South that began 100 years ago, by studying.
“I study because I wanted to provide some new offerings for theatre lovers, particularly younger audiences,” said 25-year-old actress Trần Ngọc Nhã Thi, one of the city’s younger talents in the traditional operatic arts.
Thi passed the entrance exam to become a student in theatre directing at the HCM City University of Theatre & Cinematography last year. She will spend three years at the school working with famous artists and skilled lecturers in different fields of literature, history and culture.
Since winning her first high prize at the National Traditional Theatre Festival for Young Talents in 2017, Thi has worked very hard, improving her skills and creativity.
She has faced challenges luring audiences back to cải lương theatre.
“Many cải lương artists left school to work for art troupes when they were teenagers. Therefore, they have not enough academic knowledge to develop their art to meet the tastes of young audiences,” said Thi.
“I believe that without study, cải lương artists will not survive in a market economy in Việt Nam today,” said Thi.
"I want cải lương performers can keep their art alive and earn a good income from it as well.” Thi said.
Thi now works for the prestigious Trần Hữu Trang Theatre, performing in dozens of plays and TV shows across the country.
In recent years, the performing arts scene has expanded rapidly with an increasing number of young talents achieving success in modern art forms, but traditional forms like chèo (traditional opera) cải lương and tuồng have been ignored.
“Traditional arts are especially difficult to master,” said theatre critic and director Thanh Hiệp of HCM City’s Theatre Artists Association.
According to Hiệp, you can use a beauty queen or a fashion model to play in movies and TV shows, but that’s impossible in theatre.
“To develop traditional theatre, we need to encourage young artists to enter colleges and universities to be exposed to higher education,” he said' — VNS