People’s Artist and cải lương star Lệ Thủy (left). Her career is featured in the web series Hồi Ký Một Kiếp Cầm Ca - Sinh Ra Để Hát (Memoirs of a Performer - Born to Be on Stage), which has been released on YouTube to mark the artist’s 40-year career. Photo courtesy of the producer
HCM CITY A web series on People’s Artist and theatre actress Lệ Thủy, a star of cải lương (reformed opera), has been released on YouTube to mark the artist’s 40-year career.
The film Hồi Ký Một Kiếp Cầm Ca - Sinh Ra Để Hát (Memoirs of a Performer - Born to Be on Stage), written and directed by Đình Trí, features the career of Thủy, one of the region’s leading performers in cải lương.
The work includes 32 episodes and highlights the artist’s devotion for cải lương and her important role in developing southern traditional theatre between the 1970s and 1990s.
“Each 60-minute part of the film helps viewers, particularly youth, learn more about cải lương and the art form's development in Vietnamese theatre,” said Trí, the film's director. “I learned about cải lương by watching more than 200 CDs and DVDs featuring Thủy.”
Born in 1948 in a farmer family in Vĩnh Long Province, Thủy (real name Trần Thị Lệ Thủy) began her career when she was a child.
She learned the art from actors Năm Truyền and Tám Đen before working as a prompter at the Trâm Vàng Troupe in Đồng Nai Province.
In 1963, she became a bright star after playing a leading role in Bẽ Bàng Duyên Mới (Love Story) staged by the Kim Chung Theatre in then Sài Gòn, now HCM City.
She performed leading roles in hundreds of plays, working with veteran artists Minh Phụng, Minh Vương and Diệp Lang, all gurus of cải lương.
After 1975, she worked for the HCM City Music and Dance Theatre. Her voice and dance skills left a strong impression on audiences.
In 1984, she and her colleagues, People’s Artists Bạch Tuyết and Ngọc Giàu, were invited to perform cải lương in France. Their performance won plaudits from many overseas Vietnamese and foreigners.
In the 1990s, Thủy travelled around the region to stage free cải lương for people living in remote areas.
Since 2005, she has performed in live shows and traditional art programmes, launched by the HCM City-based Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre, with the aim of attracting young people back to the theatre.
Thủy has performed in more than 300 plays, videos and films, including famous historical works Tô Ánh Nguyệt (Ms Tô Ánh Nguyệt), Đời Cô Lựu (Life of Ms Lựu) and Câu Thơ Yên Ngựa (Poetry and Saddle).
She won several top prizes at national traditional theatre competitions and festivals, including the Golden Medal for Best Theatre Actress in 1064 at the Thanh Tâm Awards (now Trần Hữu Trang Awards presented by the HCM City Theatre Association).
She was honoured as a People’s Artist by the government in 2012.
“My life is devoted to cải lương. I hope young people will love the art after watching Hồi Ký Một Kiếp Cầm Ca - Sinh Ra Để Hát,” said the 71-year-old. VNS