|CLASSIC PLAY: Veteran and young actors of HCM City perform in Dạ Cổ Hoài Lang (Night Drumbeats Cause Longing for Absent Husband), a cải lương version of the drama of the same name in 1994. Photo courtesy of the producer|
HCM CITY — Theatre actor, director and producer Thanh Điền of HCM City will this month start to perform in a new play of cải lương (reformed opera) featuring traditional Southern culture.
Điền will play a lead role in Dạ Cổ Hoài Lang (Night Drumbeats Cause Longing for Absent Husband), a version of the drama of the same name by late director Thanh Hoàng of 5B Small Theatre in 1994.
The work tells the story of Tư, an elderly artisan, and his closest friend, who move from their native village in a province in the Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta to live with their children in the US.
They are nostalgic after years living away from Việt Nam. They often sing and dance cải lương, a 100-year-old traditional theatre genre of the southern region, together.
Điền will play Tư.
He is working with the play’s producer-director Gia Bảo to perfect his performance.
“I hope my art will help fans understand why and how cải lương is the spirit of Vietnamese people," said People’s Artist Điền, who has 45 years in theatre.
Since its debut in 1994, the drama Dạ Cổ Hoài Lang has been staged more than 1,000 times in HCM City and Hà Nội.
It won the first prize Golden Medal at the National Theatre Festival in Hà Nội in 1995.
Dạ Cổ Hoài Lang was named after the famous vọng cổ (Nostalgic Tunes) song written in 1919 by well-known musician Cao Văn Lầu of Bạc Liêu Province, who is recognised as a guru of cải lương theatre.
The song tells of the love, anguish and pride of a young woman watching her husband leave to fight for the country.
In the cải lương version, producer and director Bảo targeted young audiences and offered cải lương in a traditional and unique style.
His production attracts young talents of cải lương such as Nguyễn Văn Khởi and Lê Như.
Điền began his career in 1959 in Long Xuyên Province. He bowled over the audience with his voice, looks and performance.
He later performed for leading troupes in the region, becoming one of the brightest stars in cải lương.
His strong and melodic voice and stage presence helped Điền leave an indelible mark on the art, enabling him to use his popularity to promote the art form.
|THEATRE VETERAN: Meritorious Artist Thanh Điền (right) has 45 years of experience in cải lương (reformed opera), a 100-year-old traditional theatre genre of the southern region. Photo courtesy of the producer|
In 1974, he established his own troupe, Xuân Liên Hoa, which attracted young talents, including Thanh Kim Huệ, who later became his wife.
Điền won several top prizes at theatre festivals and contests. He has performed in more than 300 plays, videos and movies.
He now works as a lecturer at Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre and HCM City University of Theatre and Cinematography.
"For a true artist, glory comes after hard work, suffering and sacrifice,” said the 76-year-old.
The cải lương version Dạ Cổ Hoài Lang is scheduled to debut at the Bến Thành Theatre in District 1 starting on December 28. VNS