|Historical histrionics: At his biggest live show next Saturday, Kim Tu Long will treat theatre lovers to traditional cai luong featuring historical events and national heroes. — VNS Photo Thanh Hiep
HCM CITY (VNS) — Cai luong (reformed opera) star Kim Tu Long is intensely focused on attracting audiences back to theatres and having them learn about historical events through the art.
It is a challenging task.
Next Saturday, Long, 48, will face up to that challenge with his third and largest live show at HCM City's Ben Thanh Theatre.
The show, Ban Sac Anh Hung (Characteristics of Heroism), includes 13 extracts from popular plays, including Dinh Bo Linh (Hero Dinh Bo Linh), Nhuy Kieu Tuong Quan (Heroine Trieu Thi Trinh) and Cau Tho Yen Ngua (Writing Poems on Horseback).
Long will be joined by 50 other performers like cai luong actors Que Tran, Tu Suong, Vu Luan, Phuong Hang, and his wife Trinh Trinh.
"The country's history and national heroes are featured in depth in cai luong," Long said.
"I will bring the original tunes of traditional music and historical stories to theatre lovers.
"Young people think history is dry on stage but I will do it differently."
To this end he has invited young singers Nhat Kim Anh, Thuy Trang, and Ba Thang to perform certain key passages, and hoped this would "attract young audiences like a pop concert".
He generally promised to combine traditional and modern styles for the show.
"We are living in a modern world. Therefore, to make an impression on audiences, cai luong artists need to improve their productions with unusual performing styles."
It is hard for anyone, even experienced artists like Long, to keep going for a three-hour live show with sound and light effects.
He knows this and has been practising singing and dancing for several hours a day for the last four months.
Cai luong is a southern theatrical art that originated in the Mekong River Delta early last century.
Long began his professional career at the Tran Huu Trang Theatre, the region's leading cai luong troupe, in 1985.
With his strong voice and rapid improvement in performance skills, he soon became a bright star on the cai luong firmament.
In 1992 he won the Tran Huu Trang Golden Prize, theatre's biggest honour conferred by the HCM City Theatre Association.
He has performed for several cai luong troupes in HCM City and southern provinces.
Like many of his peers, he devotes all his energies to the stage and to finding ways to attract audiences.
He often performs in remote areas for the benefit of people living there.
The show, which begins at 8pm on October 18, is expected to attract more than 1,000 people. — VNS