|(From right to left) Actor Nguyễn Minh Hải, Algerian ambassador Boubazine Abdelhamid and director Xuân Bắc at the play's launch in Hà Nội on Wednesday. — VNS Photo Nguyễn Bình|
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese theatregoers have been treated to the first-ever performance of L'Homme aux sandales de caoutchouc (The Man in Rubber Sandals), a play written in 1970 by the renowned Algerian writer Kateb Yacine, who wrote the production while living in Việt Nam.
The play follows Việt Nam's journey from the Hai Bà Trưng uprising against the Chinese Han domination nearly two centuries ago to the death of President Hồ Chí Minh in 1969.
Although The Man in Rubber Sandals was previously performed in Algeria and France, it has never before graced the stages of Việt Nam. This momentous occasion marks a significant milestone as Yacine's work finally reaches the country that inspired it.
Yacine (1929-89) was one of the most popular writers in Algeria. He was a novelist, poet and playwright. In 1967, he came to Việt Nam and greatly admired the Vietnamese struggle against the Americans.
"After the independence of Algeria, Yacine demonstrated his universal struggle through a three-year stay in Việt Nam from 1967 to 1970," said Algerian ambassador to Việt Nam Boubazine Abdelhamid.
"This stay in Việt Nam is essential for his conception of the struggle of nationalities within an anti-colonial revolution."
Completed in 1970, the play is a master poetic work of more than 300 pages, eight acts, with around 150 characters and 1,800 dialogues featuring the historical process of Việt Nam from the Hai Bà Trưng uprising (between AD40-43) to the death of President Hồ Chí Minh in 1969.
The script was edited and shorted by Lê Mạnh Hùng, PhD in Art, who is also one of the play's directors.
"Directing and performing the play is a big challenge," Hùng said. "I thought a lot before agreeing to direct the drama. I respect Yacine's sentiment toward Vietnamese people.
"I edited the script to highlight Yacine's view on the Vietnamese struggle to gain national independence."
Hùng was invited to join the project by the theatre's director Xuân Bắc.
"I have never worked with such a long drama," said the director and established actor. "We are eager but overwhelmed by the play. Generally, it is not only a work to focus on President Hồ Chí Minh but also an epic depicting the Vietnamese country and people through historical periods."
Veteran artists, including Trịnh Mai Nguyên, Hoàng Lâm Tùng and Khuất Quỳnh Hoa, will perform the drama. Lê Quang Đạo and Nguyễn Minh Hải play President Hồ in different stages of his life.
Đạo recently also had success with the role of President Hồ in a series of short plays in the theatre, while Hải looks much like the late president, and is from the central province of Nghệ An, the nativeland of the president.
The production is one of a series to celebrate the 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Việt Nam and Algeria (1962-2022).
The Man in Rubber Sandals is in a national tour performance scheduled for the theatre. It is expected to perform in Algeria, according to the theatre director Xuân Bắc. — VNS