No boys allowed: The All Girls' Troupe founded in Tien Giang Province in 1927, the first and only one of its kind in the country.
HCM CITY — The 60 monochromatic and coloured photographs tell a captivating story for the cai luong (reformed theatre) aficionado.
They offer different windows through which a brief history of the folk and classical art can be viewed, but the main focus is on the hugely talented actresses that have graced the cai luong stage over the years.
The photographic exhibition at the District 3 Women's Cultural House in HCM City is part of celebrations marking the Party's 80th anniversary.
Themed "Southern Cai Luong Actresses", the exhibition also features cai luong relics like performing costumes worn by actresses onstage, medals, certificates of merit and various accouterments.
Through different generations of performers, visitors are taken on a historical journey of the art form, with Nam Phi, Phung Ha, Bay Nam, Nam Sa Dec, Nam Can Tho and Tu Helene in the vanguard.
The second generation of cai luong actresses include Thanh Nga, Ngoc Giau, Le Thuy, Phuong Lien, My Chau, Bach Tuyet, Thanh Thanh Hoa, Aùnh Hong and Mong Tuyen.
Contemporary third generation artists featured in the show include Thoai My, Thanh Hang, Thanh Thanh Tam, Thanh Ngan, Que Tran and Tu Suong.
All the actresses in the second generation, known as the "golden generation" for promoting the art to its heights, have won the prestigious Thanh Tam Award for best cai luong actress, while the third generation artists are recipients of the Tran Huu Trang Awards.
The exhibition also highlights interesting facts about cai luong theatre like Dong Nu Ba, the first and only All Women Troupe in the country which was formed in 1927 in Tien Giang Province, bringing together girls aged between 17 and 21 to inspire patriotism in the fight against French colonialists.
Visitors also learn that late actress Nam Phi was the very first woman to gain prominence in the art form, while her younger sister Bay Nam was the very first woman composer of cai luong theatre.
Some actresses were affectionately known by their "speciality". Kim Chuong was number one for kiem hiep (martial art) dramas. Ut Bach Lan was "number one melancholic singer"; Thanh Huong was the best female singer, and Bach Tuyet was cai luong treasure. The exhibition will remain open until mid-March to celebrate the International Women's Day, which falls on March 8. — VNS