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Classic comedy returns to stage

Update: February, 16/2017 - 07:00
National treasures: Young actors from Hà Nội Academy of Stage and Cinema will perform Quẫn comedy on February 18 and 25 at Việt Nam Youth Theatre. — Photo coutersy of Việt Nam Youth Theatre
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI —  A comedy by late Vietnamese dramatist Lộng Chương will be revived on stage over 50 years arter its first performance. 

Composed in 1960, Quẫn (Stupefaction) is a notable comedy work considered representative of modern Vietnamese drama. It tells the story of the upper middle class man Đại Cát and his family’s efforts to disperse and hide its wealth when they are asked to hand over their property to the administration. 

Đại Cát aims to resolve the issue by giving his daughter a dowry, giving away to his wife and his mother. Ridiculously, he even buys a coffin for himself. On the contrary, his daughter knows her father’s conspiracy and doesn’t agree with him. She knows where her father hides his gold and brings all gold to the authority.

The comedy is revived by established artist Trần Lực. He stages the comedy with theatrical illusion techniques generated by German playwright Bertolt Brecht. This is the first stage work by Lực, and it earned him the best director award at the recent Hà Nội Stage Festival 2016. Actor Trương Mạnh Đạt also won the gold medal at the festival for his role Đại Cát. 

"I watched the comedy, which was staged by People’s Artist Trần Hoạt for Việt Nam National Drama Theatre long ago," said director Lực. "I liked how his style criticised Đại Cát. However, I think that the original screenplay is not suitable for our time. I had to adjust the screenplay."

Born in 1918 in the northern province of Hải Dương, Phạm Văn Hiền eventually took the name Lộng Chương, which means "satire" in Vietnamese. At the age of five, he watched Moliere comedy at Hà Nội Opera House with his aunt. 

He and his friends in the Bình Dân Art Troupe began to perform short plays during the early days of the national resistance against the French. His short plays with national resistance themes were popular because they were light-hearted and humourous. 

His Quẫn is seen as the most successful comedy of Việt Nam modern drama, with more than 1,000 shows by Việt Nam National Drama Theatre.

During his 70 year-career, Lộng Chương wrote nearly 140 works for different art genres including drama; puppetry and chèo (traditional operetta). He is a recipient of the Hồ Chí Minh Award for literature and arts. — VNS


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