Viet Nam News
THỪA THIÊN-HUẾ — Huế is fostering the revival of regular bài chòi performances in villages that were once familiar with the art form in an attempt to keep it alive.
Half game half theatre performance, bài chòi was recognised as a world cultural heritage item earlier this year by UNESCO and is a common legacy in the central provinces ranging from Quảng Bình, Thừa Thiên-Huế to Khánh Hòa.
According to local authorities, practice of the art form in this province is quite different from others, so conservation of Huế’s bài chòi is necessary to ensure the diversity of the art is not lost.
Under a recent proposal made the provincial People’s Committee, authorities will give funds to revive bài chòi clubs in villages where it used to be performed regularly during the holidays.
The number of performances has dwindled over the last two decades as a result of changes created by the modern lifestyle. Only Thanh Thủy Chánh, the village that has the Thanh Toàn roofed bridge, has kept the traditional bài chòi performance every Tết (Lunar New Year festival).
At the same time, local authorities will fund a programme to teach bài chòi singing in schools.
The Department of Culture and Sports has tried to make digital documents of local bài chòi songs, create a list of top artists and integrate the performances at the biennial Huế Festival, the biennial festival for craft villages and at public playgrounds during Tết.
The department is also in charge of creating classes for veteran artists to train younger performers.
Bài chòi literally means a game of a deck of cards (bài) by sitting in bamboo huts (chòi). Nine bamboo huts on stilts are erected on a spacious plot of land in two rows, each made up of four huts for the players. The biggest hut is in the middle, with a wooden stand for the leader of the game.
The leader sings songs that include the name of the cards or illustrated the figures on the cards. A hut that has three cards that coincide with the songs win the game.
Experts said bài chòi in Huế is a different type of entertainment compared to those of theatres in Bình Định, Phú Yên and Khánh Hòa. Game leaders in Huế are said to be more creative as they have various lyrics on the sample music. — VNS