By Cúc Đường
The Vietnamese art scene has shown encouraging signs of revival after being devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic as the country moves into a 'new normal'.
Artists from the Việt Nam Drama Theatre performed their first show since the pandemic by staging the play Bệnh Sỹ (Egotism) by Lưu Quang Vũ on May 23 at Hà Nội Opera House. The show was the first of a series of shows by 12 theatres under the culture ministry.
Each theatre has been working to draw in an audience.
Artists from the Việt Nam Circus Federation have trained hard despite the baking summer heat.
“We would practise even if it was hotter,” said People’s Artist Tống Toàn Thắng, deputy director of the federation. “As the art of circus needs fluent co-operation between individual artists. Each person practising separately at home cannot make up for a mass rehearsal.”
After the Lunar New Year, artists at the federation stayed home from work for about four months due to the pandemic before returning in May.
Thắng said he and his colleagues thought hard about attracting an audience as people still hesitate to join mass gatherings.
Instead of waiting for schools to come to sign contracts with the federation to perform at closing ceremonies, the federation asked schools to hold their ceremonies at the theatre.
Dozens of such shows have taken place at the theatre. The regular Tân Cướp Biển 2020 (New Pirates 2020) show and traditional circus shows have also been performed.
The federation has travelled to other provinces like Quảng Ninh to perform at Circus Gala of Three Regions.
Circus artists march in Bãi Cháy City in the northern province of Quảng Ninh at the end of May in the framework of the first Three Region Circus Gala. — Photo vov.vn
Some 25 shows have been performed by the federation since May, which account for only 20 per cent of the same period in 2019, Thắng said.
"Each show, the audience filled about 800 of the 1,300 seat capacity,” Thắng said. “But that’s a great encouragement for us.”
Lệ Ngọc Drama Stage, a private theatre in the north, has returned since May with a children's play titled Cây Tre Thần (Magic Bamboo), which was performed non-stop at Đại Nam Cinema in downtown Hà Nội for 20 nights with some 500 people each night in attendance.
The stage has also opened in HCM City with 16 shows of various plays. In each show, some 400 tickets were sold.
Children's Day on June 1 was a golden chance for theatres to draw crowds.
Hà Nội-based Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) Theatre gave 20 shows of three new plays for children.
Every two weeks, at the main stages in the capital, theatres have offered noted plays like Vân Dại (Crazy Vân) by the Việt Nam Traditional Opera Theatre, Kiều by the Việt Nam Puppetry Theatre, and Chuyện Tình Khau Vai (Khau Vai Love Story) by the Việt Nam Reformed Opera Theatre
New plays including Bão Ngầm (Sudden Storm) by Việt Nam Reformed Opera Theatre, Bộ Cảnh Phục (A Policeman’s Uniform) by the Youth Theatre and Nữ Cảnh Sát Săn Bắt Cướp (Policewoman Chasing Robbers) by the Việt Nam Drama Theatre had also been staged as part of the theatre festival about the police sector, which took place in mid July.
The culture ministry has sponsored 12 theatres under its management to perform at main stages in the city like the Opera House, Âu Cơ Theatre and Traditional Opera Theatre since the end of May.
On August 22, the Việt Nam Opera & Ballet Theatre will perform Swan Lake at the Opera House as the last show in the series subsidised by the ministry
No difficulties, no discoveries
Nguyễn Thị Minh Nguyệt, director of the Opera House said since May, each month, the opera has hosted only five shows while it normally hosts 28 shows.
"Despite this, artists have spared no efforts to lure an audience even in the pandemic," Nguyệt said.
At the beginning of the outbreak, artists like Tùng Dương, Quốc Trung and Trang Trịnh released new music projects
Pop singer Tùng Dương used his music video Tùng Dương & Friends to gather international artists like Julia Sarr, Stéphane Galland, Alex Tran, Romain Labaye and Nguyên Lê, who joined the video from their studios at home.
He has been doing MV Quê Nhà (Homeland) with Nguyên Lê and Hà Trần, which is set to finish by the end of this year.
Composer Quốc Trung chose to perform based on his annual Moonson Festival. The project was named "Monsoon Music Festival From Home" and attracted various famed artists like Thanh Lam, Thanh Phương, Hà An, Hùng Cường, Hoàng Thái Vũ and the band Ngọt (Sweet).
Pianist Trang Trịnh made 24 Hours Music Marathon in early April gathering more than 120 international artists from the UK, France, the US, Switzerland, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore. Each star performed at 8pm at their home. The programme ran non-stop for 24 hours.
Music Home show has also run monthly gathering singers like Quang Dũng, Tùng Dương, Hà Nhi, Erik and Hòa Minzy.
Erik attracted 71 million of views for his music video Em Không Sai, Chúng Ta Sai (You’re Not Wrong, We’re Wrong), while Hòa Minzy got 20 million for Không Thể Cùng Nhau Suốt Kiếp (Can't Go Together Through Our Life), and Bích Phương had 30 million with Em Bỏ Thuốc Lá Chưa? (Have You Quit Smoking?).
Scenes from Erik's Em Không Sai, Chúng Ta Sai (You’re Not Wrong, We’re Wrong). — Photo from video
Pop singer Chi Pu with her video Cung Đàn Vỡ Đôi (Broken Guitar) released in early June gathered 16 million views while Sơn Tùng M-TP with Có Chắc Yêu Là Đây (Is That Love) gathered 38 million views just four days after release on July 5.
Singer Hoàng Bách returned to music with his project BACH20 starting with Chuyện Chàng Cô Đơn (A Lonely Man) in mid-June.
Singer Hà Lê completed his album Ở Trọ (Rented House) of his project Trịnh Temporary, and diva Thanh Lam launched her album Nơi Gặp Gỡ Tình Yêu (Where Love Meets) during this period.
Various music projects have been released like Series Bandlands Channel by producer Dương Cầm on July 2 and a show on Phú Quang music on July 9.
Community projects like the music video Hòa Nhịp Con Tim (Hearts Beat Together), Bao La Những Trái Tim Hồng (Kind Hearts) and Việt Nam Ơi Đánh Bay Covid (Oh, Việt Nam, Do Fight Against Covid) have been released in the past three months.
In the classical music field, the Việt Nam Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony, Ballet and Opera Theatre and the Việt Nam Music Academy all returned with the concert We Return on June 19.
“We were the last to revive,” said composer Huy Tuấn. “We were very sad during social distancing.”
“But we have used up free time to practise to recharge and to be ready for new projects,” he said. VNS