The artists of the Việt Nam Youth Theatre performed four short plays at the Goethe Institute in Hà Nội on Monday to a limited audience.
The performance was part of a theatre project funded by the institute in a world transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic and digitalisation.
Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình spoke with Sĩ Tiến, the theatre's deputy-director, about the project and theatre in a pandemic-hit world.
Could you introduce the project?
Since social distancing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all common attitudes to life have changed.
Home is the place for people to return to after work. But they have to stay at home and home is now not only home. This causes problems.
Many habits are changed and people have to work from home. Family relationships develop in a direction that we never expected.
This includes negative and positive aspects. Each family member has time to show their love and care for each other more. But they are also stressed because of being face to face all the time.
This time I think is worth thinking about as we were not prepared for this change in advance.
The Goethe Institute has a project to invite four female writers to write different stories about families in the pandemic. Through the four theatrical pieces, people will have another look at family relationships and their home as well.
The one-night show was held with the participation of a 25-member audience at a maximum at the Goethe Institute. The artists performed at four different places in the institute.
What are the plays about?
The pieces were written by four women, Huệ Ninh, Maik Cây, Hoàng Trang and Nguyễn Mỹ Linh who are known for their works in film and television.
Their short stories are quite different but have the same theme about how our homes are changing and what is happening under the pressure of the pandemic and with our favourite social network.
The writers also raise public concern such as "How do we deal with each other in this crisis; what are we saying to each other; what do we believe in; who do we really end up spending time with; what do we really need; and how do we want to we carry on with our lives in the aftermath?"
Is this the first time your artists have performed in this manner?
Yes, we cannot predict what will happen in the future. It is hard work to find a vaccine against COVID-19. So, we're thinking about a small theatre with a small audience.
Surely, performing with a small audience cannot make a profit. However, it will bring benefits to artists. They still have the chance to perform with interaction with the audience.
When everything is back to normal we will continue with traditional theatre.
Online performances have been held all over the world due to the pandemic. Does your theatre have plans to perform online?
International football matches are being held in empty stadiums. We will be sad if we have to perform in empty theatres. Applause and feedback from the audience encourage artists a lot.
We must try to have theatrical productions despite the impact of COVID-19. Online performance is one of the ways to allow artists to connect with the audience. We will make classical pieces or extracts.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a sudden and substantial impact on art, including performers. Art performances are a non-essential commodity. It needs an audience. If a performance is held without an audience, it will not make a profit.
We have been suggested to perform online and launches on social networks. But I think it is not an art performance because this kind of art must have an audience. Online performance is not theatre art. It looks like a television show.
It is really difficult for our artists at this time. However, the business and health care sectors are finding it much more difficult than us.
Frontline health care workers are working very hard to minimise the damage caused by the pandemic. We hope things will be better in the near future.
Every year in August, the theatre has performances to commemorate the death of playwright Lưu Quang Vũ, one of the most influential authors in Vietnamese theatre. How can it be held during the pandemic?
Currently, social activities are not completely banned. We must find the safest way to live with the pandemic.
We have sold many tickets for performances on August 22, 23, 29 and 30. The performances will be possibly held and audiences will sit at a distance.
In case performing activities are banned, we will work with Việt Nam Television to air the play Ai Là Thủ Phạm (Who is the Culprit) on August 29. VNS