Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — The tuồng (classical drama) play Võ Đông Sơ-Bạch Thu Hà (Love Story of Võ Đông Sơ and Bạch Thu Hà), a production by scriptwriter Mộc Quán, will be restaged in a new version 89 years after its first release.
The 90-minute play is about patriotism, faithfulness and love.
It portrays the lives of love of hero Võ Đông Sơ and his wife, Bạch Thu Hà, both of whom lived under the reign of Gia Long, emperor and founder of the Nguyễn Dynasty in the 19th century.
The play is considered a classic of tuồng, a Vietnamese classical drama originating in the 12th century, developed in the central and southern regions.
The play’s scriptwriter Quán worked with his partner, author Nguyễn Trọng Quyền, to complete Võ Đông Sơ-Bạch Thu Hà based on a novel written by Tân Dân Tử in 1926.
Tử is one of the South’s first and leading writers in the 20th century.
Since its debut by the Huỳnh Kỳ Troupe in Sài Gòn in 1928, the play has been staged many times by art troupes in HCM City and southern provinces.
It has starred talented artists such as Phùng Há, Bạch Tuyết, Hùng Cường, Minh Cảnh and Lệ Thủy, recognised as gurus of tuồng and cải lương (reformed opera).
This new version is performed by actors of the HCM City Hát Bội (classical drama) Theatre and targeted to young audiences.
“We want to encourage young people to learn more about Vietnamese history and culture through theatre,” said the play’s director Nguyễn Hoàn.
Hoàn used young actors to play the title roles because he wanted to “bring a fresh wind to tuồng, a very old and unique genre of Vietnamese theatre,” he said.
The director asked his young staff to study traditional culture and theatre of centuries ago, and demanded that they refine their voice and acting skills to successfully convey the spirit of tuồng.
"Although my friends and I really like movies and musical performances, we will come to get a taste of what tuồng in Võ Đông Sơ-Bạch Thu Hà is like," said Trần Thị Ánh, a 21-year-old student at the HCM City University of Culture.
Ánh said that she learned about the play from her parents, who watched the show performed by actors Cảnh and Thủy in the 1980s.
The script of Hoàn’s production was written by People’s Artist Đinh Bằng Phi, who has more than 50 years in tuồng. The play is expected to be staged late next month. — VNS