Tuesday, August 11 2020


Singaporean epic refreshed on VN stage

Update: August, 15/2018 - 08:00
On stage: A scene from the play. Photo cinet.vn
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Artists from the Việt Nam Tuồng Theatre recently staged a Singaporean popular epic titled Bukit Merah.

The tuồng (classical drama) play has been revived under the new name Huyền thoại Ngọn Đồi Đỏ (Legend of a Red Hill), and will be performed in Singapore in October before joining art festivals in China and South Korea.

The original story is about the ancient Kingdom of Singapura and its surrounding sea, where a fierce swordfish lived. The king was very concerned about the animal. A 14-year-old boy named Nadim came up with an idea to build a fence made of banana trees to trap the fish. His plan was successful and people of the kingdom celebrated the young boy’s ingenuity, while the king showered him in rewards. However, a mandarin became jealous of Nadim and afraid he would take his post one day. The mandarin plotted to kill Nadim. He persuaded the king that Nadim was not trustworthy and the boy was planning to dethrone the king. The ensuing jealousy caused chaos in the kingdom.

Collaboration: The Singaporean epic Bukit Merah, with a script by Chua Soo Pong was transformed into tuồng script by Sỹ Chức and directed by Đặng Bá Tài, with music by Lê Trần Vinh.

Vietamese artists have been preparing the performance since 2017. According to director Đặng Bá Tài, playwright Chua Soo Pong has co-ordinated with the theatre to re-write the script using languages of Vietnamese classical drama.

“We can see that the costumes, customs, music and dances belong to Singapore, but the souls of the characters are Vietnamese,” Tài said.

“On the tuồng stage, we express natural phenomena like the weather not just through music but also using techniques like a fan to imitate a branch in the wind,” he said.

In Singaporean tradition, artists dance to express activities like fishing, while Vietnamese artists use blue silk to mimic the water, while performers act out fishing.

Talented: Playwright Chua Soo Pong.

The Vietnamese version of Bukit Merah, with a script by Chua Soo Pong, was transformed into a tuồng script by Sỹ Chức and directed by Đặng Bá Tài, with music by Lê Trần Vinh. The performance represents the new co-operation between the theatre and Singaporean artists.

Playwright Chua has previously worked with the theatre to stage another play titled Dưới Bóng Đa Huyền Thoại (Under the Legendary Banyan Tree).

“This Singaporean folk story has been performed in many places, and transformed into drama, dance and opera by Chinese artists for many years,” said Chua.

“This co-operation marks the turning point in co-operation between Việt Nam and Singapore. I hope artists in the two countries will have more chances to work together.” — VNS

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