Viet Nam News
LucTeam is the first private professional drama troupe in Hà Nội. It made its debut at the end of last year with a performance of The Jealousy of Cinderella comedy by French playwright Moliere. The troupe was established by Trần Lực, a noted actor with many leading roles in motion pictures and television series.
Born to a traditional artistic family, Lực developed a passion for tuồng and chèo when he was very young. He studied at the Hà Nội Academy of Theatre and Cinema in the mid-eighties. As a first-year student, he was sent to study theatre directing and acting in Bulgaria. Lực has made a mark as an actor, television film producer and teacher.
Only after 30 years of work did he begin to focus on his deep passion for theatre. LucTeam is the effort of artist Lực to aim at high-end art with the style of "epic theatre”.
Artist Lực discussed his very young troupe.
You are an established artist. Could you tell why you wanted to set up a drama troupe?
I dreamed about establishing a drama troupe a long time ago, especially after I returned from Bulgaria. One more reason is the success of my first work as a director in 2016, which earned me the best director award at a theatre festival held in Hà Nội. At that time I was teaching at the Hà Nội Academy of Theatre and Cinema and I staged the work for my fourth-year students. I wanted to give my students a chance to access expressionism on stage.
I was encouraged to proceed. LucTeam is a troupe in which the members are my students and me. Our target is to create high-end theatre productions. My troupe doesn’t seek and invite famous artists to join LucTeam because I believe that our students will be stars to shine in future.
If a drama troupe wants to develop stably it needs to define art trends and the discipline. If an actor is not disciplined he will not be a good artist. My students recently finished their three-month training course in basic circus. Through the course they learn how to liberate themselves. They have to study the basics traditional art genres such as tuồng (classical opera) and chèo (popular opera). I wish my students to be outlived by their careers.
Is it risky to employ the "epic theatre" method for LucTeam because this method is quite new in Việt Nam?
This method is popular around the world. But in Việt Nam it is new. Vietnamese spectators need to take time to access it. We are also careful to apply this method even though spectators welcome us enthusiastically.
There is only thing that I can assure. We will stop. We staged two plays, one Vietnamese and one foreign, which were our first experiment. We need to set up a long-term plan based on spectators’ feedback after they watch the drama.
What are the most attractive aspects of The Jealousy of Cinderella?
I chose the script because it is among the rare works by Moliere, who is the greatest French poet and comic playwright of the 17th century, to keep its original script over 500 years. Even though The Jealousy of Cinderella was penned over four centuries ago, its content is still new. It blends the French sarcasm with a contemporary Vietnamese outlook to turn the 500 year-old story into a modern Vietnamese story.
The Jealousy of Cinderella is a comedy. It’s not just fun, it is very fun. I have always agreed with Aristotle that the nature of art is entertainment. The play is very entertaining and everybody will feel happy when it finishes, but after that they will contemplate certain things.
Epic theatre method has a special point that breaks the barrier between performers and spectators. A stage prop in the play is a motorcycle but it is very small. When it runs in the stage spectators can hear its sound and even smell petrol. I invite face artists and body artists to join the make-up team to make up with the tuồng style depicting the roles’ characteristics.
The stories of everyday life are well analyzed, and the messages are well delivered through the characters’ words and actions.
Did you get support when you set up LucTeam?
When I intended to establish LucTeam, many people prevented me. They also explained that LucTeam’s establishment seems to be counterintuitive because the theatre scene in Việt Nam is struggling to find spectators. I think that like other art genres, theatre has its own value. Theatre used to be the most favourite entertainment in the 1970s-1980s. Many people think that television gameshows have taken spectators out from theatre.
At present, most plays are produced similarly with a psychological realism style. It causes boredom. Many spectators said that they prefer watching television series to a play. As a result, LucTeam wishes spectators to understand the difference between a live play on the stage and movies and other entertainment shows. — VNS