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Touring dance piece explores themes of gender, sexuality

Update: December, 08/2008 - 00:00

Touring dance piece explores themes of gender, sexuality

(09-12-2008)

Lady boys: A scene from Stereo Man is performed by artists from the Youth Theatre. — File Photo

HA NOI — There is a woman in every man and a man in every woman, says dancer and choreographer Nhu Lai, explaining the theme and universal appeal of his show Stereo Man, as performers from the Ha Noi-based Youth Theatre prepare to take the show on the road.

Stereo Man, which has already been performed in Thailand and in cities around the northern region, is about to make a tour of 20 colleges and universities in central and southern Viet Nam.

The show was developed by Lai out of a workshop of the Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA), offered to the six countries in the sub-Mekong River region.

"During the workshop, we did many exercises about social issues, like gender, drugs, HIV/AIDS, and others. Stereo Man is one of them," said Lai.

Stereo Man is a dance piece performed by five male dancers that tells multiple stories. One is the story of a young man dealing with the consequences of an error he has made in the past. He is now isolated from society due to an HIV infection, and he suffers both mentally and physically.

Meanwhile, another man is ostracised because he wants to become a woman.

Each of the performers begins the piece sitting separately in red chairs which are the only props on the stage. With quick movements, the dancers express the thoughts and desires of the characters.

Last year, with the assistance of the PETA and the Rockefeller Foundation, the Youth Theatre put on free shows of Stereo Man for students at eight universities and colleges in Ha Noi, Hai Phong and Thai Nguyen.

"Our artists were welcomed at the colleges and universities. We also invited psychologists to speak with the students," said Youth Theatre deputy director Truong Nhuan.

"Sexuality, social issues and the inner life of each man were staged convincingly by the director," said one female audience member after the performance at the Ha Noi Industrial Fine Arts College. "The dancers did well to help me see the inner world of gay people. The performance touched me."

Now, with assistance from the Ford Foundation, the theatre will perform Stereo Man at 20 universities and colleges in HCM City, Vung Tau, Da Lat, Nha Trang and Da Nang between December 9 and January 6. Stereo Man will return to Ha Noi, where it will be performed at the Youth Theatre and Ha Noi Opera House.

According to PETA, the performers may shortly be invited to perform in India. — VNS