|National heritage: HCM City’s cải lương artists will perform in the art project Những Ánh Sao Đêm (Stars at Night), which preserves cải lương. — Photo courtesy of the organiser|
HCM CITY — A drama project featuring the traditional music genre of the southern region, cải lương (reformed opera), will be launched this month by veteran artists and couple Thanh Điền and Thanh Kim Huệ in HCM City.
The project, Những Ánh Sao Đêm (Stars in Night), includes a series of shows featuring the history of traditional music, including songs and plays in different styles performed by pioneers in the 1950s and 70s.
It has received support from the Trần Hữu Trang Theatre, one of the region’s leading cải lương troupes, as well as dozens of young and veteran performers of the city.
The project’s first show will include Em Ơi Đừng Khóc Nữa (Don’t Cry Baby), a 120-minute play featuring love and women.
The show highlights People’s Artist Bạch Tuyết, Meritorious Artist Trọng Phúc and young talent Quế Trân.
“Our project preserves cải lương by offering traditional tunes since the art began in Mỹ Tho of Tiền Giang Province in the 1920s,” said Meritorious Artist Điền, who worked with his wife, Meritorious Huệ, to write and direct shows for the project.
“We aim to restage famous plays that have been performed by different generations. We want to help cải lương artists bring their art to theatre lovers,” he said.
Điền said that his project’s shows would offer tickets at affordable prices, ranging from VNĐ100,000 (US$4.5) to 200,000 ($9) each, to serve students and labourers.
Những Ánh Sao Đêm is the second drama project of the 73-year-old Điền in the last two years.
Last year, his project 100 Năm Sân Khấu Cải Lương (A Hundred Years of Cải Lương Theatre), a book on the history and developments of cải lương, was released after 15 years of writing and editing.
The work includes documentaries and images collected by Điền and his wife during more than 50 years of their career.
Born in a traditional family in the Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta province of Tiền Giang, Điền began his career in 1959 in Long Xuyên Province.
His strong and melodic voice and stage presence helped Điền leave an indelible mark on the art.
He performed for leading cải lương troupes such as Trường Xuân Troupe in Long Xuyên Province, Hương Mùa Thu Troupe and Kim Chung Theatre in Sài Gòn (now HCM City).
In 1974, he opened his own troupe, Xuân Liên Hoa, which attracted young talents, including Huệ, who later became his wife.
In 1980, Điền and Huệ worked for the Sài Gòn Cải Lương Theatre.
Điền won his first gold prize for his role, President Hồ Chí Minh, in Đêm Trắng (Sleepless Night), a play featuring the career of late President, at the National Professional Theatre Festival in 1990 in Hà Nội.
Both Điền and Huệ won several top prizes at national cải lương festivals. They have performed in more than 300 plays, videos and movies.
“The love of cải lương runs in our blood. We have wanted to expand cải lương for young people, who encourage our artists to keep the art alive,” said Điền, who spent his own money on the project Những Ánh Sao Đêm.
The first show of Những Ánh Sao Đêm is expected to be staged later this month at Hưng Đạo Theatre at 515-517 Trần Hưng Đạo Street in District 1.—VNS