The original poster of “A Cup of Poison” by Vũ Đình Long. File Photo
HÀ NỘI — After 100 years, Chén Thuốc Độc (A Cup of Poison), the first Western-style play in the history of Việt Nam, will once again be performed in Hà Nội.
On October 22, 1921, the famous three-act play was first performed at the Hà Nội Opera House.
This event is considered the starting point for dramatic art in Việt Nam, and its author Vũ Đình Long (1896-1960), has been widely recognised as the “Father” of Vietnamese theatre.
A century later, Long’s iconic play will once again be performed thanks to a group of talented veteran artists from the Viêt Nam Stage Artists Association, in collaboration with the Việt Nam National Drama Theatre and Việt Nam Youth Theatre.
The play will be edited by screenwriter Đỗ Trí Hùng and choreographed by the director, Meritorious Artist Bùi Như Lai, with the cast of acclaimed artists, including Lê Khanh, Nguyễn Việt Thắng, Nguyễn Trung Hiếu, Trịnh Mai Nguyên, Nguyễn Xuân Bắc, Hoài Thu and many other actors.
Artists in the production team of the new “A Cup of Poison”, which will be performed again this October. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam National Drama Theatre
Bùi Như Lai can't hide his emotion when talking about directing this play.
“I believe we all feel proud to be a part of this play,” Lai said.
"A Cup of Poison marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vietnamese drama, so we decided to choose the Việt Nam National Drama Theatre because it is the pioneering stage, the initiator, and the foundation for everything.
“Of course, I can feel the pressure as Vietnamese drama has gone through 100 years of formation and development. Many generations of artists have been and we are always responsible for bringing the best contemporary rhythm of life into the plays.”
For Lê Khanh, this is a great honour, especially after everything was closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the past, whenever going with my father (People's Artist Trần Tiến) to the Vietnam National Drama Theatre, I always wished to have the opportunity to stand on this stage,” said the 58–year-old artist.
“Without the "handshakes" linking theatres together after the pandemic, perhaps my dream could not come true. This is a wonderful opportunity for artists to exchange and learn from each other.
“With all these meanings hopefully we will together make a beautiful play, honouring the older generation who have left us a glorious stage like today.
“From there, we can both be proud of yesterday and encourage each other to strive,” she added.
A Cup of Poison is about the family of Thông Thu, a well-off civil servant. Living in a society that is half Western, half Vietnamese, each family member pursues their own trivial goals which lead to a broken family life and heavy debt.
In his distress, Thu decides to drink poison to free himself.
As his death approaches, a younger brother suddenly returns from a faraway place with money for the family. That gift helped him escape death, pay the debt and save his family.
The play serves as a warning to all to wake up and choose a better life.
The play will run at the Việt Nam National Drama Theatre from October 20 to 27, 2021. VNS