|Still going strong: Meritorious artists Thành Lộc and Hữu Châu play for children on stage.|
HCM CITY – Theatres that stage dramas in HCM City are facing unprecedented financial difficulties, while dramas aimed at adults are losing audiences, according to the director of the IDECAF Drama Theatre.
Huỳnh Anh Tuấn said that the theatre was using profits from a drama for children (Ngày Xửa Ngày Xưa/Once Upon A Time) to support plays that are for adults.
However, during the Tết holiday in February, theatre attracted large audiences.
Tickets for several dramatic plays sold out.
But one month after Tết, only half of the seats were filled at several plays, which featured Meritorious Artists Thành Lộc and Hữu Châu, two actors popular with children.
Dramas without the two stars were able to sell only one-third of the total tickets.
Such a situation reflects the uncertainty of theatre in the city, especially when the vitality of IDECAF, the strongest drama theatre in town, is in question.
In order to survive, IDECAF has chosen to focus on its strength, dramas for children.
The 29th episode of the popular series Ngày xửa ngày xưa,(Once upon a Time) titled Bảo Tàng Quái Vật, (Monster Museum), will include mostly “acting idols” of local children.
The play will feature Meritorious Artists Thành Lộc and Hữu Châu and artists Bạch Long, Lê Khánh, Hoàng Trinh, Đức Thịnh and Đình Toàn.
For the first time, Don Nguyễn, a popular internet comic well-known through clips in which he dresses in wigs, and mimics stars on webcams in his room, will also appear in a play.
IDECAF has also invested strongly in costumes and stage decoration to create a world of marvelous nature for young audiences.
The play focuses on raising audience’s awareness of nature and environmental protection..
IDECAF has sold 10,000 tickets for the play, mostly to group buyers even though the play’s premiere is scheduled for May 20.
Last year, the theatre sold a total of 30,000 tickets of the play, and it expects the same number of tickets to sell this year.
The IDECAF Drama Theatre has two stages, Idefcaf and Trần Cao Vân, with a total capacity of 500 seats. If both stages are full for 30 shows, the theatre could reach its goal.
In the months before Tết, the theatre rarely sold all of its tickets. About 200 tickets were sold for each show, and each play had only one show a week.
There were even shows that sold only several dozen tickets and had to be cancelled.
In order to maintain the operation of the theatre, Tuấn said he must develop the strategy of “using short-term crops to nurture the long-term crops”.
Profits from plays for children in the summer season will be saved to invest in drama for adults.
“The theatre has to study audiences’ tastes to choose suitable scripts, and then work hard to ensure drama go well with the taste and to be serious art work.
In 20 years of operation with nearly 50 dramas for children, IDECAF has been the only theatre to operate consistently thanks to the success of the series Ngày Xửa Ngày Xưa. —VNS