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Trương Ba’s Soul, Butcher’s Body staged by puppet theatre

Update: August, 11/2016 - 09:00
Allegory: Puppeteers of the Thăng Long Puppetry Theatre will stage "Trương Ba’s Soul, Butcher’s Body" at the 3rd International Experimental Theatre Festival in November. -- Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – For the first time, the popular play Hồn Trương Ba Da Hàng Thịt (Trương Ba’s Soul, Butcher’s Body) will be performed by the Thăng Long Puppetry Theatre.

Trương Ba’s Soul, Butcher’s Body was written by the late playwright Lưu Quang Vũ in 1988. The playwright used the allegory of a chess player’s soul trapped in a butcher’s body to criticise how a corrupt government affects its people.

The play is staged by the crew, including director Lê Chí Kiên, set designer Doãn Bằng and adapter Đăng Tiến.

Kiên nurtured to stage the play combining puppetry and actors in 2007. “I wanted to experiment with a popular play by Vũ,” said Kiên.

The play has been produced by known directors using traditional art forms, including tuồng (classical opera), chèo (traditional opera), cải lương (reformed theatre) and drama.

Interesting content and the human values of the play are challenges for Kiên. He and the crew took time to determine how to combine puppetry and actors in the play.

“It took two months for designer Bằng and me to think about setting up the stage. We discussed it a lot and decided to decorate the stage with a black and white coloured Chinese chessboard,” said the director.

The play is one of Vũ’s best-known stories and the one for which he is most remembered. The main themes of the play come from a popular Vietnamese folk tale of the same name that has been refashioned in many genres.

Vũ has adapted this well-known narrative for the stage, adding details and undertones that resonate with an audience of the đổi mới (renewal) process.

The play dramatises a conflict between the soul and body — a soul that strives towards the highest spiritual fulfillment, trapped within a corrupt and degenerate body.

The play will be a special puppetry performance that uses traditional music genres, such as xẩm (the music of blind street performers); chèo and chầu văn (văn singing).

“The play is performed by puppetry and actors. It is not a traditional puppetry performance, but is contemporary art show. Yet it is easy to enjoy,” said People’s Artist Mạnh Tường.

Trương Ba’s Soul, Butcher’s Body will be staged during the 3rd International Experimental Theatre Festival held by Việt Nam Stage Artists Association in November. — VNS

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