With a series of new plays staged by seven theatres running two shows per day during the Lunar New Year or Tết festival, people in HCM City are spoiled for choice. (Photo from IDECAF)
By Thu Anh
HCM CITY— Drama enthusiasts in HCM City have never had it so good. With eight new plays staged by seven theatres running two shows per day during the Lunar New Year or Tết festival, they are spoiled for choice.
Comic shows are some of the most popular on offer, with comedians plying their trade at no fewer that three venues downtown: Phú Nhuận Drama Club, IDECAF and Thế Giới Trẻ (Youth World) Theatre.
Phú Nhuận Drama Club is one of the busiest night spots in the city. Three of the sketches performed at the club, Tám Thần Tài (The God of Wealth), Ma Nữ Không Chồng (Unmarried) and Oan Hồn Truyện (Story of the Ghost), have attracted audiences.
These plays feature love, betrayal and karma. More sober entertainment is on offer at the city’s first private theatre, IDECAF.
The theatre has a preference for traditional stories from the south like Ác Nhân Cốc (Royal Treasure) and Mưa Bà Tú (Stories in Rain).
The works feature talented actors Thanh Thủy and Đình Toàn.
But others have criticised the theatre, saying its comedy performances during Tết reveal that it is selling its soul to commercialism.
"These comedy plays are not what the IDECAF has become known for, " said drama critic Thanh Hiệp, a member of the HCM City Theatre’s Association.
Cải lương performers will offer free shows for thousands of fans in rural areas with sound and light effects at open-air concerts. (Photo from Trần Hữu Trang Theatre)
Meritorious Artist and comedian Thành Lộc, art director of IDECAF, disagrees, saying that people, particularly youth, want to be "entertained and forget their problems after a year of hard work so we are trying to make them laugh during Tết”.
According to Phú Nhuận Drama Club and IDECAF, tickets have sold out for the week of Tết, which falls on January 24.
Thế Giới Trẻ Theatre, founded 10 years ago, is known for its performances of serious plays which focus on the trials and tribulations of life. But it has changed its tune to meet the taste of audiences on Tết.
The theatre invited famous comics like Thu Trang, Tiến Luật and Puka, and its young staff, who are well known for their roles in sentimental plays, to perform in comedies.
For cải lương (reformed opera) fans, artists from the Trần Hữu Trang Theatre performed extracts from popular operas such as Huyền Thoại Mẹ (The Legend of Mother) and Ngao, Sò, Ốc, Hến (The Stories of Clam, Oyster, Snail, Mussel) during every night of the Tết festival.
As in previous years, the theatre also selected historical plays like Tiếng Trống Mê Linh (The Voice of Mê Linh Drum) during the season staged by renowned artists like Võ Minh Luân and Tú Sương, offered an interesting feast for cải lương lovers.
"Tết is also the time for people, especially youth, to look back, remember and improve their knowledge about the country's history, traditional culture and lifestyles," said actress Thanh Thảo of Trần Hữu Trang Theatre.
Thảo and her young colleagues have worked to offer free shows for residents living in rural districts.
As their tradition, they will offer performance activities for thousands of fans in rural areas with sound and light effects at open-air concerts.
"We’re not looking to make a profit from these shows. All of us are paying more attention to quality," Thảo added.
Most of the free shows will begin this week and continue through February 5 at district cultural houses.— VNS