Sprawling cast: Talented actress Trịnh Kim Chi performs in Châu Về Hợp Phố (Reunion), a 60-minute play on the Mậu Thân Offensive in the spring of 1968. The play includes 70 actors, with young talents from Hồng Vân Drama Troupe, one of HCM City’s leading private drama troupes. Photo courtesy of the producer.
Viet Nam News
by Thu Anh
Veteran and young actors of private troupes in HCM City are preparing for participation in the National Professional Drama Festival 2018, which will be launched by the culture ministry’s Department of Performing Arts in the city next month.
Hồng Vân Drama Troupe, one of HCM City’s leading private drama troupes, will stage Châu Về Hợp Phố (Reunion), a play on the Mậu Thân Offensive in the spring of 1968.
The 60-minute play features South Vietnamese liberation soldiers and their stories during and after the campaign, which occurred during the American War.
It portrays Châu and his wife, Phố, both Sài Gòn residents, who awaken to revolutionary ideas. Châu moves to the north to join the Viet Nam People’s Army, and Phố works as a secret agent in Sài Gòn.
Both meet in the battle of Sài Gòn in January, when the South Viet Nam liberation forces attacked the US Embassy.
“My play tells true stories about the war,” said director Meritorious Artist Trần Minh Ngọc.
Ngọc, who has more than 50 years in the industry, asked his young actors to research books, documents and films on the offensive by both Vietnamese and foreign filmmakers.
“I wanted my production to be lively and to help young audiences learn as much about the country’s history and what Vietnamese generations fought for.”
“I hope young audiences will learn valuable things about war and peace after watching,” said the 80-year-old.
The play, involving more than 70 actors, will be staged for free for students in 20 universities and colleges after the festival.
The TKC Drama Club will send its new play on young volunteers to compete at the festival.
Một Thời Để Nhớ (A Time to Remember) portrays the lives of members of HCM City Young Volunteer Force who worked in remote areas in southern provinces during the 1980s.
"We wanted to spotlight the brave volunteers’ remarkable work for building our homeland after war,” said the play’s female director Trịnh Kim Chi, owner of the troupe.
Chi spent VNĐ120 million (US$6,000) to create costumes and dazzling sound and light effects.
To highlight the play’s theme, she used revolutionary songs such as Cô Gái Mở Đường (Young Female Volunteers Maintain the Roads), Em Là Thanh Niên Xung Phong (Young Volunteer) and Em Ở Nông Trường Em Ra Biên Giới (Working at a Farm, Going to the Border), written by famous musicians Xuân Giao, Quỳnh Hợp and Trịnh Công Sơn, respectively.
Serious work: The TKC Drama Club will send its new play, Một Thời Để Nhớ (A Time to Remember), to compete at the National Professional Drama Festival 2018 in HCM City this month. The work portrays the lives of members of HCM City Young Volunteer Force who worked in remote areas in southern provinces during the 1980s. Photo courtesy of the theatre
Rising stars: Young actors of the Thế Giới Trẻ (World of Youth) theatre troupe. Photo courtesy of the producer
The director also invited Lê Thị Mai, former member of the force, to help her staff improve their acting skills.
“I was very happy to help young actors. I hope audiences will learn more about our work,” said Mai, who volunteered to work in Kiên Giang and Cà Mau provinces in 1976 when she was 21 years old.
Mai and her colleagues attended the play’s premiere at District 6’s Cultural Centre on December.
Một Thời Để Nhớ is staged on Saturday and Sunday nights.
Another troupe, Thế Giới Trẻ (World of Youth) Drama Troupe, is more involved in contemporary art.
The troupe’s young actors are working on Cướp Biển (Pirates), an experimental production by young director Ngọc Hùng. The show features topics about urban women and social problems.
Director Hùng has used both Eastern and Western styles to depict the play’s theme.
“Though my play is about a well-worn topic, love, it will bring new messages and include new concepts for the theatre,” said Hùng, adding that he knew how to dazzle audiences during and after performances.
Hùng, also a reporter, has written and directed more than 20 plays on different topics.
Most of his works are stories about urban youth.
One of his well-known plays, Chuyện Tình Bangkok (Love Story in Bangkok), has been performed 200 times since its initial show in 2014.
Thanks to Hùng’s contribution, the Thế Giới Trẻ Drama Troupe is one of the city’s leading private drama troupes, and is also a place for young actors to improve their skills at school.
The troupe offers quality shows at only VNĐ30-50,000 (US$0.7) per ticket to attract young audiences.
IDECAF, the region’s leading private drama troupe, will not attend this year’s festival.
It has opened its third theatre at 5 Trần Cao Vân Street in District 1.
“We do not have enough time to prepare for the festival,” said Huỳnh Anh Tuấn, the troupe’s owner.
Many theatregoers say they are eagerly awaiting the quality performances at the festival.
The National Professional Drama Festival begins on April 11. VNS