Viet Nam News
by Thu Anh
HCM CITY — A drama project featuring the traditional music genre of the southern region, cải lương (reformed opera), by veteran and young artists in HCM City has attracted young audiences back to the theatre.
The shows feature historical plays and songs in different styles performed by pioneers in the 1960s-80s.
The project has received support from Trần Hữu Trang Theatre, one of the region’s leading cải lương troupes, as well as dozens of veteran and performers from the city and southern provinces.
Hòa Điệu Đất Chín Rồng (The Chorus of the Nine-Dragon Land) was launched by veteran scriptwriter Hoàng Song Việt. It has attracted young stars of leading cải lương troupes in Cần Thơ and provinces of Bến Tre, Trà Vinh, Tiền Giang, Kiên Giang, Long An, Đồng Tháp, and Cà Mau.
It also features veteran performers such as Kim Ngân and Công Minh of HCM City.
“My project preserves cải lương by restaging famous plays that have been performed by different generations. I want to offer unique tunes of cải lương since the art began in Mỹ Tho in Tiền Giang Province in the 1920s,” said Việt, who spent several months working with his partners, including provincial television stations and radios.
“My staff, including skilled artists from Việt Nam Television (VTV), HCM City Television, Cần Thơ Television and Bạc Liêu Television and Radio, have written and directed shows for the project,” he added.
Việt’s shows are staged every month at theatres in the Mekong River Delta region. They also air live on VTV5 and VTV9 channels.
On stage: Young and veteran artists perform in a project called Ba Thế Hệ Về Lại Cội Nguồn (Three Generations Perform Cải Lương). — Photo Thanh Hiệp
Lê Hoàng’s Cải Lương Stage began last year and has offered historical plays with settings in the Trần, Đinh and Lý reigns (between the 10th and 14th centuries).
His project’s plays, including Ngọc Kỳ Lân (Kylin Jade) and Thái Hậu Dương Vân Nga (Mother Queen Dương Vân Nga), have been restaged several times at the Bình Thạnh District Cultural House.
“Our shows attract veteran actors such as People’s Artists Bạch Tuyết, Lệ Thủy and Ngọc Giàu, and Meritorious Artist Kim Tử Long, who perform a unique style of cải lương,” said Hoàng, adding that he had also invited young talents from art schools, such as the HCM City Theatre and Cinematography University and the University of Culture.
Hoàng’s project has a part-time staff of theatre directors, actors and stage workers, but he pays them monthly salaries to keep the business stable.
“I love watching shows staged by Hoàng’s artists because their art is traditional, but brings a fresh style. I think they will face big challenges, but they have a future,” said Vũ Hoàng Long, a third-year student at the HCM City University of Law.
Artist Long, one of the region’s biggest cải lương stars, rejected invitations from State-owned art troupes so he could join Hoàng’s project.
“Cải lương projects launched by young artists like Hoàng need our veterans’ support to develop their business. These projects are a good chance for young actors and me to show off our art,” he said.
Meritorious Artist Kim Tử Long (left) and his actors perform unique tunes of cải lương (reformed opera) to preserve the art. — Photo courtesy of the organiser
Long also launched a drama project called Ba Thế Hệ Về Lại Cội Nguồn (Three Generations Perform Cải Lương) at Công Nhân Theatre in HCM City’s District 1 last year.
His project offers live shows on the country’s historical events in contemporary periods.
Featured plays are Câu Thơ Yên Ngựa (Poems on the Saddle), Ngọn Lửa Thăng Long (Fire of Thăng Long Citadel) and Tiếng Gọi Non Sông (The Call of the Nation), which include national heroes and soldiers.
“Through our project, we hope to encourage young people to learn about traditional theatre,” said Long, adding that his staff has received support from the HCM City Theatre Association as well as many young talents from southern provinces.
Long’s shows offer tickets at affordable prices, ranging from VNĐ50,000 (US$2.2) to 100,000 ($4.5) each, to attract students and labourers.
His actors have staged plays in Hà Nội and Hải Phòng.
“The love of cải lương runs in our blood. We want to expand cải lương for young people, who have encouraged our artists to keep the art alive,” said Long, who has performed in more than 200 plays, videos and movies. VNS