Reformed opera festival under way

Update: October, 20/2012 - 10:29


Tall tale: A scene from the cai luong play Nguon Sang Phia Chan Troi (Light on Horison) by female director Quynh Mai that will be staged during the National Cai Luong Professional Stage Festival. Most of the plays being performed focus on modern social topics. — File Photo
DONG NAI (VNS) — Nearly 30 cai luong (reformed opera) plays exploring modern social topics will be showcased at this year's National Cai Luong Professional Stage Festival, which starts today at Bien Hoa City in the southern province of Dong Nai.

During the 15-day event, several prominent names from the cai luong world will gather to present their productions, which focus on various aspects of modern society, according to festival requirements.

Veteran artist Tran Ngoc Giau will direct two plays Noi Doi La Trong Toi (Lie Is a Sin) by the Tay Ninh Art Troupe and Dong Nho (The Flow of Nostalgia) by the Kien Giang People's Cai Luong Theatre.

Meanwhile, People's Artist Trieu Trung Kien directed the plays Tro Ve Mien Sang (Back to the Bright Region) by the Thanh Hoa Cai Luong Troupe and the Me Cung (Matrix) by the Viet Nam Cai Luong Theatre.

However, while the scripts for traditional cai luong plays focus on historical events or folk tales, the modern topics are a cause for some concern from directors.

Director Nguyen Dat said: "For a long time, historical and traditional folk tales have been considered as the default contents of cai luong plays. Due to changes in society, modern issues offer very interesting areas for scriptwriters to explore."

Dat, who is also head of the Traditional Drama and Singing Department of the HCM City Stage and Cinematography College, added: "The festival should present plays examining both traditional and modern topics, promoting the diversity of this art form. If a director staged a traditional-topic play mixed with modern styles, I think it could be very interesting."

Dat will introduce his experimental play Con Hong Thuy (Red Tide) in this year's festival.

"Unlike my previous traditional plays, I challenged myself with this latest production to break all the ‘traditional rules' of stage decoration and script structure as well as the number of actors. Only three actors will perform in the play."

Although she is presenting three new plays at this year's festival, female director Quynh Mai said she faced difficulties implementing the modern topics.

"It is very easy to make up the content or details of a play with traditional topics. However, it isn't appropriate with modern topics as those plays should present the facts of life," added Mai, whose Tron Doi Trung Hieu Voi Thang Long (Forever Loyal to Thang Long) won a golden medal at the National Cai Luong Festival in 2009.

This year, her plays include Nguon Sang Phia Chan Troi (Light on Horison) by the Ha Noi Cai Luong Theatre, the Nguoi Dan Ba Muoi Ba Ben Nuoc (The Woman of 13 River Wharfs) by the Quang Ninh Art Troupe, and the Vu Cat (Sand Breast) by the Viet Nam Cai Luong Theatre.

According to deputy head of the culture ministry's Art Performing Department Do Ky, the emphasis on modern topics aims to bring cai luong to whole new audiences.

"As many plays presented during this year's festival feature the problems of modern families and lifestyles, I think many audiences will be able to identify with the issues being explored on stage," said Ky.

The biennial festival is also an opportunity for directors and artists to learn from each other and share experiences.

The festival takes place at the Dong Nai Conference and Event Centre, 1 Nguyen Ai Quoc Road, Bien Hoa City until November 3. — VNS