There has been an uptick in entertainment programmes for children with the advent of summer vacations and the International Children's Day (June 1). Director Bui Nhu Lai, of the Tuoi Tre (Youth) Theatre, renowned for projects highlighting the plight of homosexuals and HIV-infected people, told Culture Vulture that programmes for children will only be worth viewing if they are fresh and not trite.
What do you think of art programmes for children produced recently?
It can be seen that more children's programmes have been created, diverse and rich in content, including puppetry, plays, circuses, musicals and dances. The Fan Yang Bubble show in Ha Noi is a good example.
However, I feel that some programmes are hackneyed and follow familiar motifs. Art programmes in general and children's programmes in particular should be fresh to strike a chord with the audience.
How do you feel young audiences have responded to the recent programmes?
For children, art performances are a lot of fun. All of them are excited when they are brought to theatres. Since they are excited about everything, parents help them select those that are of good quality. However, while some performances attract large crowds, others are deserted. There are several reasons for this, including the programme's quality, the producers' marketing strategy, duration, venue and ticket prices.
When you take your children out, what kind of programmes you will choose?
A good programme for children should combine entertainment and education. It should be easy to understand, provoke the imagination of children and carry important moral lessons.
Not all children have a chance to enjoy performances at theatres. What can be done to change this?
That's true. Not all parents can afford tickets at theatres and this causes some financial difficulties for performers. I always want to bring performances to as many audiences as possible.
I think plays can be taken to schools and outdoor stages in residential areas. Children don't have to go to the theatre to enjoy them. They should have different ways to access the art.
On the occasion of the International Children's Day this year, I received many requests to perform at the stages mentioned above. This is a good way to bring art closer to children. Remarkable programmes leave good memories in the children's minds. When they grow up, they will visit theatres to enjoy more plays.
Can you suggest some ways to create children's programmes of high quality?
A good programme should begin with a good idea, close to the children's world, sending them a humane message, for example, of friendship, morality and peace.
Directors can use different genres of art and special effects to make their programmes attractive. The programmes should be colourful and lively, creating a chance for audiences to interact with actors and be a part of the performance. If children sit on their chairs from the start to finish, it might not be something they enjoy for long.
As far as I know, there is no theatre that has surveyed the audience's response to children's programmes.
Children should be listened to and their opinions respected. Then we can produce programmes worth watching for them. — VNS