HCM CITY— State-owned and private art troupes have expressed interest in a theatre project on Vietnamese and foreign plays that has been launched by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's performing and art department.
Under the project, a select group of top theatres and drama troupes will stage 100 quality plays in different styles, including 22 foreign plays.
The troupes will be selected by the department's selection board of senior cultural officials and veteran artists.
The project's participants will receive money from the ministry to complete their work before it is introduced to the public.
More than VND150 million (US$7,500) will be used to stage a traditional play in the styles of tuong (classical drama in central style), cheo (traditional opera in northern style) and cai luong (reformed theatre in southern style), and VND130 million for a contemporary play.
Each play must be performed at least 30 times.
The ministry will spend VND40 billion ($2 million) to operate its project, which is expected to begin late this month and through 2020.
Truong Nhuan, deputy director of the Tuoi Tre (Youth) Theatre in Ha Noi, said his theatre had given support to the project.
"Our artists are interested in staging foreign plays like Shakespeare's Macbeth and Hamlet, and Chekhov's Three Sisters and Garden of Eden. These will help them get away from increasingly uninspiring performances," he said.
"But we face economic challenges because these older plays receive fewer attention from audiences, particularly youth. We need the government's support," he added.
Nhuan's theatre will participate in the 2010 China International Theatre Festival next month, staging Macbeth performed by its young actors. Later, they will perform in the International Drama Festival in Tokyo.
Huynh Anh Tuan, director of the IDECAF Drama Troupe in HCM City, said each traditional play should receive more money, from VND150 million to VND200 million.
"I think a play should be staged only 20 times," he asked.
In recent years, instead of investing in quality shows, many troupes, including State-owned theatres, have performed in cultural festivals and promotional events launched by advertising and service agencies.
Many of these troupes' skilled performers, including young talent, have to perform in music, drama and film programmes for television and film studios.
"We have to choose a solution that quickly provides us with profits," said Phan Quoc Hung, director of the Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Theatre in HCM City.
Hung explained that travelling around the city and in other provinces to participate in festivals and events helped his staff earn money.
"Because our money from the State budget is not enough, we can't produce quality performances. This doesn't meet the audiences' high demand," he said.
Like many other theatres, Hung's theatre has asked the city to support them to upgrade their facilities, but that is still on the back burner.
"To change the situation, the government should create a long-term solution with preferential policies, especially for State-owned art troupes," he said. —VNS