Sunday, January 17 2021


Traditional theatres hunt for new talent

Update: January, 05/2020 - 16:26


Young artists are making a lot of effort to keep up with their schedules at understaffed traditional art theatres. Photo courtesy of,vn

Traditional art theatres in HCM City are facing a shortage of artists and musicians, which has made it tough for the members of each theatre to keep up with their performance schedules.  

Ten artists from the HCM City Hát Bội Art Theatre, for example, have worked since 2017, but due to their lack of official training qualifications, they have not received official certification.

As a special art form without any official training institute, it is difficult to hire members based on professional qualifications, experts told Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper.

Theatres manage their own budget and workforce and their managing board decides which artists can be hired as full-time, official employees.

The HCM City Hát Bội Art Theatre has 21 active artists, but half of them are young members who have been waiting to be included on the list of official recruitment for professionals for two years.

The young artists have learned the art of hát bội (classical drama) from their seniors and worked in theatres, including artist Anh Thi who joined the theatre when she was 14 years old, and Bảo Châu, Ngọc Giàu and Thu Hà, who began working when they were 16 years old.

Even though musicians Tuấn Dũng and Kim Phong have 20 years of experience in the theatre, and others have 15 years of experience, many have not qualified as permanent staff. Many of these artists have won gold medals at festivals and professional art shows nationwide.

Meritorious Artist Hữu Danh (left) and artist Đông Hồ perform on stage. The HCM City Hát Bội Art Theatre is in need of artist now. Photo

With their love and passion for traditional arts, the young artists have developed their skills and taken on crucial roles, creating a stable, new foundation for the theatre. Preparation for this group of quality artists kicked off more than 20 years ago.

The theatre schedules 140 performances per year while carrying out tours to remote areas.

Sometimes the theatre has had to hire retired or freelance artists to take part in seasonal performances because they have only 21 active performers.

Artist Bảo Châu said only those with enough passion can pursue hát bội in the long term.

“This is a difficult job with low income and a lot of hardship. After many years of working as professionals, many artists, including me, are still not qualified as permanent staff. This has saddened many people,” he added.


Some policies have led to problems in manpower and training of artists. Specifically, a policy in 2018 stated art units would not be allowed to use State funds to pay contracted artists.

Artists from HCM City Hát Bội Art Theatre perform in Bùi Viện pedestrian street. Photo

The HCM City culture authority has asked the Ministry of Culture for recommendations to work on problems that have hindered the growth of traditional art performances, according to Võ Hồ Hoàng Vũ, head of the HCM City Hát Bội Art Theatre.

More preferential policies on recruitment of artists without qualifications should be considered, he said, adding that the theatre would focus on training more young artists and working on payments based on the theatre budget.

Vũ emphasised that manpower was the biggest problem for the theatre. VNS


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