Thursday, August 6 2020


Performance tells story of northern culture, history

Update: November, 03/2017 - 11:30
The show gathers 250 performers including professional artists and local people. — Photo courtesy of the organiser
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — The peaceful landscapes and unique cultural activities of the northern region are featured in a live entertainment project entitled the Quintessence of Tonkin, officially launched last Saturday.

The spectators will have a chance to explore Vietnamese history and culture from a contemporary perspective, with hundreds of performers, an interactive stage and state-of-the-art technology.

The spectacle will highlight elements of Vietnamese culture such as folk singing, folk games, Mother Goddesses worship and daily life of farmers in contemporary and innovative ways.

The experience has been many years in the making, and will be considered one of the highlights of a trip to Việt Nam. Head of the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism, Hoàng Văn Tuấn, said the show can touch audiences’ hearts.

“From now on, the show will help introduce audiences, especially foreign tourists, to the quintessence of Vietnamese culture,” he said.

The 60-minute show is organised everyday except Tuesday at Baara Land, Quốc Oai District, 25km west of central Hà Nội.

It’s located close to Thầy Pagoda, one of the oldest Buddhist pagodas in the country and a pilgrimage site during the lunar new year festival season.

The spectacle draws inspiration from the pagoda’s spiritual history, with a story that focuses on the founding of the pagoda by the venerable monk Từ Đạo Hạnh and the ancient union between religion and monarchy. A visit to the Thầy Pagoda can be combined with a trip to see The Quintessence of Tonkin, contextualising both experiences.  

The stage was built in between the auditorium and the small hill where Thầy Pagoda rests, so the audience watches the performance to the backdrop of the pagoda.

The stage is permanently submerged under a thin layer of water, and is large enough to accommodate all 250 performers at any one time.

The ubiquitous water allows for many of cultural treasures to be creatively displayed, including water puppetry and dragon boat racing.

“Mountains and water are very important in Vietnamese spirituality and folklore, which is why the show takes place on a lake and Thầy Pagoda hill is visible,” said Hoàng Nhật Nam, director of the show.

“It was also important to me that I included many of the most important aspects of Vietnamese culture and history. The audience will encounter scenes depicting the rise of Vietnamese Buddhism, legendary kings, martial arts and the ancient mandarin university system.”

The spectacle can be best thought of as a mosaic of Vietnamese culture, taking the most compelling elements and weaving them into a performance masterpiece.

Performance art technicians were sourced to devise a world class sound and lighting system, but the sounds of the spectacle will still reflect the peaceful sounds of rural Việt Nam, including wooden drums and brass gongs; night crickets and flowing water. The spectacle will also blend different elements of traditional music styles, including quan họ (love duets) and ca trù (ceremonial singing), both of which are now recognised by UNESCO as examples of intangible world heritage.

The auditorium can hold up to 2,500 guests. The site is approximately 40 minutes by car from central Hà Nội with shuttle-bus service on offer. A “dinner and show” combination will be available. — VNS

The stage was built between the auditorium and the small hill where Thầy Pagoda rests, so the audience watches the performance to the backdrop of the pagoda. — Photo courtesy of the organiser

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