Cải lương and drama troupes in HCM City will perform new shows to mark the long Reunification Day and Labour Day weekend. Photo courtesy of the Lê Hoàng Stage
HCM City’s drama and cải lương (reformed opera) troupes are offering new shows about Vietnamese history during the Reunification Day and Labour Day holidays, which begin on April 27 and end on May 1.
By Thu Anh.
The private TKC Drama Troupe has a new show, Một Thời Để Nhớ (A Time to Remember), about young volunteers working in remote areas of southern provinces during the late 1970s and early 80s.
The play’s director, actress Trịnh Kim Chi, invested several hundred millions of đồng on high-tech equipment, including light and sound effects, artificial smoke and visual arts.
“I wanted to focus on the old topic of war and love in modern performances to attract both older and younger audiences,” said Chi, owner of the troupe, who has more than 20 years in the industry.
Veteran actress Trịnh Kim Chi (in black) of the private TKC Drama Troupe performs in Một Thời Để Nhớ (A Time to Remember), a production on young volunteers working in remote areas of southern provinces during the 1970s and 80s. Photo courtesy of the producer
Một Thời Để Nhớ portrays the lives of female members of the HCM City Young Volunteer Brigade (HYVB), who devoted their youth to the country’s development.
It was first staged at the National Professional Drama Festival 2018 in the city, leaving a strong impression on audiences. The play won a special certificate presented by the festival’s jury.
In this new version, Chi decided to spotlight young women who volunteered their services to develop the city's economy after the American war.
She hired 20 young actors, including Minh Tiến, Phúc Thiện and Uyên Nhi.
To highlight the play’s theme, she used patriotic songs such as Cô Gái Mở Đường (Young Female Volunteers Maintain the Roads), Em Là Cô Gái Thanh Niên Xung Phong (She’s a Young Volunteer) and Em Ở Nông Trường Em Ra Biên Giới (She Works at a Farm, She Goes to the Border), written by famous musicians.
Young actors of the Nghệ An Radio & Television perform in Hoa Lửa Truông Bồn (Female Volunteers Mending Roads at Truông Bồn), before more than 500 guests at Bến Thành Theatre in HCM City. Photo courtesy of the producer
Chi also invited Lê Thị Mai, a former young volunteer, to help her staff improve their knowledge and performance skills.
“I was very happy to help young actors. I hope audiences, particularly young people, will learn more about the country’s history and the city's young labour volunteers,” said Mai, who worked in Kiên Giang and Cà Mau provinces in 1976 when she was 21 years old.
“I love working on historical plays that contain knowledge and lessons because these productions help young generations learn about traditional culture and lifestyles," said young acress Uyên Nhi of TKC troupe, adding that although young people like cinemas and musical performances, they’re willing to get a taste of theatre.
On Tuesday, the play titled Hoa Lửa Truông Bồn (Female Volunteers Mending Road at Truông Bồn), staged by actors from the Nghệ An Radio & Television, attracted more than 500 guests at Bến Thành Theatre.
The four-act play, written by Nguyễn Thế Kỷ, features 13 female members of Team 317 under Việt Nam’s Youth Volunteer Brigade filling in bomb craters at Truông Bồn crossroads in Nghệ An Province in 1968 during the American war of destruction against North Việt Nam.
“Hoa Lửa Truông Bồn is a heroic song about patriots. It is based on historical events and true stories,” said Nguyện Thu Ba, a theatre fan from Bình Thạnh District.
The newly opened private troupe, Lê Hoàng Stage, includes Meritorious Artist Tú Sương and others like Võ Minh Lâm and Thúy My acting in its series of extracts from famous historical plays, such as Huyền Trân Công Chúa (Princess Huyền Trân) and Trần Quốc Toản (Young Hero Trần Quốc Toản).
The productions highlight patriotism and loyalty, and promise a great spectacle of music and images to suit the tastes of young people and lure them away from movies and pop concerts.
The troupe’s theatre director Lê Trung Thảo also plans to offer outdoor shows in cultural houses for rural audiences.
“We will perform in the rural districts of Cần Giờ, Bình Chánh, Nhà Bè, Củ Chi, and Hóc Môn,” he said.
Historical plays are staged by leading theatres in HCM City to celebrate the Reunification Day and Labour Day holidays, which begin on April 27 and end on May 1. Photo by Thanh Hiệp
Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre in District 1 will offer a variety of shows at only VNĐ50,000 (US$2) to 100,000 (US$4) targeted at students.
Talented artistes like Võ Thành Phê, Mỹ Linh and Thanh Thảo will perform in Tìm Lại Cuộc Đời (Life Again) and Huyền Thoại Người Mẹ (The Legend of Mother), both focusing on historical events during the American war.
Rặng Trâm Bầu will begin at 8pm at Bến Thành Theatre at 6 Mạc Đĩnh Chi Street in District 1 on Saturday and Sunday.
The shows by Lê Hoàng Stage and Trần Hữu Trang are being staged every night from April 27 to May 1 at 144 Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street and 136 Trần Hưng Đạo Street in District 1.
New private troupe opens
The new and privately owned Cải Lương Đại Việt Troupe has opened in HCM City after several years of preparation.
The theatre is composed of 30 veteran and young actors, including Meritorious Artists Lê Tứ and Quế Trân, both of whom have performed in several hundred plays and TV shows.
The theatre is managed by scriptwriter Hoàng Song Việt and his partners, Triệu Trung Kiên, and Quang Khải of the Việt Nam Cải Lương Theatre, who have several years of experience in the industry.
The troupe offers shows aimed at young people.
Next month, it will make its debut with Chuyện Tình Khâu Vai (Love Story in Khâu Vai), a new play about love written by Việt.
“We failed to stage our first show on April 30 because we needed to take longer time to perfect our art before staging,” said Việt, who has written 20 plays, mostly award-winning productions.
“Only quality shows bring cải lương closer to young audiences,” said the 65-year-old.
Việt’s latest play, Thầy Ba Đợi (Teacher Ba Đợi), featured 50 talented artists from Việt Nam Cải Lương Theatre and Trần Hữu Trang Theatre.
It sold out two weeks before its first performances in Hà Nội and HCM City in 2018, the year in which 100 years of cải lương was celebrated.
The 150-minute show portrays the career of famous musician Nguyễn Quang Đại, a guru of cải lương who helped develop tài tử music, a genre of traditional music, and cải lương in the South.
It focuses on the career of musician Đại in 1885, when he moved from his birthplace, Huế City, to Sài Gòn (HCM City now) to teach tài tử music. Đại’s contributions in promoting Huế royal music and cải lương are also highlighted.
In Thầy Ba Đợi, theatre director Kiên of Đại Việt Cải Lương Troupe, one of the play’s four directors, combined traditional and modern performance styles.
“We hope to satisfy audiences who want to enjoy cải lương with something new," said Kiên in an interview with HCM City-based Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper.
“Cải lương will attract younger audiences if it provides a new and modern style. I believe in our troupe’s future,” he said.
Artists of Cải Lương Đại Việt Troupe are working to offer a series of historical shows after Truyện Tình Khâu Vai.
They will stage Câu Thơ Yên Ngựa (Poems on the Saddle), Ngọn Lửa Thăng Long (The Flame of Thăng Long Citadel) and Tiếng Gọi Non Sông (The Call of Nation), which feature national heroes.
People’s Artist Trần Ngọc Giàu, chairman of the city’s Theatre Association, said: “HCM City has nine private cải lương troupes, including Cải Lương Đại Việt Troupe, mostly owned by veteran artists. The love of cải lương runs in their blood. They need more support from local authorities and fans to develop their business.” VNS