Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — People’s Artist, theatre director and scriptwriter Đinh Bằng Phi, a leading tuồng or hát bội (classical drama) performer in the 1980s-90s, will stage a mini live show in HCM City on November 9 night.
The 81-year-old will perform traditional tunes with support from instrumentalists.
He will perform excerpts from tuồng plays that had made him famous for more than five decades.
He will also talk about tuồng history and its development during various periods, including its evolution from a folk art into a royal art in the 17th century.
Phi began his career as a theatre scriptwriter in HCM City in 1959 at the National Music and Theatre School of Sài Gòn.
In 1971, he became a professional tuồng performer after setting up the Đinh Bằng Phi Hát Bội Troupe by roping in talented artists like Kim Thanh, Xuân Quan and Ngọc Dung.
His troupe staged free performances at primary schools.
He was later invited to join the HCM City Hát Bội Theatre, one of the region’s leading traditional theatres, and became its deputy director in 1980.
His strong and melodic voice as well as commanding stage presence have helped Phi leave an indelible mark on the art.
He has written and directed more than 40 plays and performed in many cải lương (reformed opera) and tuồng plays, videos and movies.
He won scores of prestigious awards at national traditional theatre festivals and contests.
Some of his books on tuồng are used at art schools to teach students.
The genre consists of singing, dancing and music, all of which are highly stylised and symbolic.
Common themes include fealty to kings and patriotic duty, which extend through the play’s structure, features, language, music, colour, struggles and the personality of the characters.
Performers wear costumes that sometimes weigh up to 10kg. They use their entire body to dance vigorously and sing powerfully to express characters’ emotions.
Phi’s show will begin at 8.30pm at the Tomb of Lê Văn Duyệt, 1 Vũ Tùng Street, Bình Thạnh District. — VNS