A wax sculture featuring People’s Artist Đinh Bằng Phi is displayed at the HCM City Theatre Association. — Photo courtesy of the HCM City Theatre Association
HCM CITY — A photo exhibition featuring the career of People’s Artist Đinh Bằng Phi, a leading artist of tuồng or hát bội (classical drama), a traditional genre of theatre in the central region, has opened in HCM City.
The event displays more than 150 black-and-white and colour photos depicting the performances of Phi, who has worked for 65 years in tuồng.
Highlighted works depict Phi and his colleagues performing in famous plays staged in the 1970s and 1980s in Sài Gòn (now HCM City). Their costumes, make-up, stage design and beautiful moves are also featured.
The pictures are exhibited with captions and articles by reporters and theatre directors who have been involved in tuồng and have celebrated the artists’ talent and commitment to the art.
“Every photo at our exhibition features the beauty of tuồng through Phi’s long career,” said theatre director Trần Ngọc Giàu, chairman of the HCM City Theatre Association, the event’s organiser.
“Photos also provide viewers with knowledge about tuồng history and its development during various periods, including its evolution from a folk art into a royal art in the 17th century.”
People’s Artist Đinh Bằng Phi hopes that young artists will work hard to preserve and develop tuồng (classical drama). — Photo courtesy of the HCM City Theatre Association
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 inviting talented artists like Kim Thanh and Xuân Quan.
His strong and melodic voice as well as commanding stage presence helped Phi leave an indelible mark on the art.
He was deputy director of the HCM City Hát Bội Theatre. He has written and directed more than 40 plays and performed in many cải lương (reformed opera) and tuồng plays, videos and movies. Some of his books on tuồng are used at art schools to teach students.
He has won scores of prestigious awards for best actor and best director at national traditional theatre festivals and contests. He has also worked with art schools and theatres to train students.
In 2018, his mini live show attracted 200 guests in HCM City. He performed traditional tunes with support from instrumentalists.
“Tuồng is the spirit of Vietnamese people in the central and south regions. I hope young artists will keep it alive,” said the 83-year-old Phi.
The exhibition will close on January 18 at 5B Võ Văn Tần Street in District 3. A series of forums and seminars on tuồng will be organised during the event. — VNS