flame of traditional art
Artists from Central Tuong Theatre perform the play King Ly
Cong Uan Moves the Capital to Thang Long. Many artists from the
theatre have been influenced by the passion of locals for tuong in
Quang Nam Province, the cradle of the art. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha
A life of poverty and
hunger is far easier to bear among the people in Que Son District in the central
province of Quang Nam than an existence that doesn’t include tuong, a classical
connected strongly to the daily lives of the people, which has been a proud
tradition among them for many generations. It is considered a spiritual dish
which is always hungered for.
Que Son District has 18
communes and 12 tuong troupes, according to Nguyen Hoang Chuong, director
of Que Son District’s Culture and Sports Centre.
Each club was founded by
the local people under direction and support from the communal authorities. The
amateur actors organise plays and practise together before staging public
A tuong festival is
held every two years in the district to provide opportunity for artists to
perform in the limelight.
"Finding young people
with a love for tuong in Que Son District is no longer as difficult as
looking for a needle in a haystack," Chuong says.
no longer face difficulties finding an audience as they have in the past. Both
the old and the young are fond of watching tuong performances."
Naturally, the tuong
rhythm is soaked into their blood because they learn to sing from their elders.
Most of these artists do not receive formal training at school.
Artists have arranged high
quality performances including Trung Vuong De Co (Queen Trung Writes on a
Flag) and Bat Com Chan Le (A Bowl of Rice Drenched with Tears).
The Tuong Club of
Thuong Nghiep Village is well-known because it was set up by popular amateurs
with charmed voices such as Phan Thi Khai, Phan Thi Nhan and Le Thi Than.
At the age of 80, Khai
still bursts into song and receives loud ovations from audiences.
"When the tuong
festival is held, we return to our youth again," she says. "Whenever I
perform tuong, I feel rejuvenated."
The older generation claim
that they will perform until their last breath.
have helped to preserve and promote the art in Que Son District.
In spite of poor
facilities, tuong clubs still run regularly. There is always a
traditional performance to enjoy at every festival at the district.
"We keep the flame of
tradition burning by keeping the art a part of people’s lives," Chuong
In recent years, veteran
artists and the local government have begun to teach the next generation of
performers to uphold the tradition. A promising force of little artists has
emerged including boys and girls between 11 and 14 years old.
At the age of 17, Huynh
Thi Khanh Phuong has spent many years learning from her elders and has begun to
win the hearts of audiences.
Artist Huynh Hoa is full
of excitement when talking about the young actors.
"We have already seen
the first success in training the young generation," he says.
"Although they don’t sing well yet, they have a desire to sing, they love
tuong as if they were lovers."
The district’s Culture
and Sports Centre supports clubs by providing money for the purchase of props
"The troupes don’t
just perform classic works. We also stage new plays around social issues such as
social evils, family planning, increasing production and love affairs with the
aim of luring audiences."
New plays portraying
modern life created and performed by Que Son District artists such as Con
Duong Lang (Village Lane) and Long Gia Yeu Nuoc (The Old Loves His
Country) have amazed audiences.
During the resistance war,
Que Son District tuong troupes used their songs to encourage soldiers to
fight against invaders and mobilise patriotism among the people. Now, the
artists continue sharing their talent to make life more cheerful and to uphold
the country’s traditional art. — VNS