The 2020 National Contest for Students of Art Schools and Centres held in Huế City attracted more than 700 students, aged under 25, from 24 art schools and entertainment centres across the country. Photo courtesy of the organiser
By Thu Anh
Private theatres and drama troupes have been offering training courses in performance skills as the number of talented actors has declined in recent years.
5B Theatre, the first private theatre in HCM City, offers training courses for students aged 10 to 25, who first take part in selection rounds hosted by the theatre’s veteran artists before training.
“Young people prefer to study fashionable subjects such as singing and contemporary dance, which help them earn fame quickly, at art schools instead of theatre, particularly traditional theatrical arts,” Meritorious Artist Ngô Mỹ Uyên, the theatre’s director, said.
“To develop theatre, we need more young, skilled performers.”
Students from Thanh Hoá Province University of Culture, Sports and Tourism perform at the 2020 National Contest for Students of Art Schools and Centres. Photo courtesy of the organiser
Professional drama training has been part of her theatre’s activities so that “we can be recognised as a specialty art centre," she said.
In recent years, the performing arts scene has expanded rapidly with an increasing number of young talents achieving success in modern art forms. However, traditional forms like chèo (traditional opera) cải lương (reformed theatre) and tuồng (classical drama) have been ignored.
The Hồng Vân Drama Troupe, owned by People’s Artist and famous comic actress Hồng Vân, has offered 11 training courses in different levels of performance. A three-year course fee ranges from VNĐ15 million (US$650) to VNĐ30 million ($1,300).
Last year, the troupe gave certificates to 20 young artists. These actors worked with professional artists, including Vân, while attending class, and performed in the theatre’s dramas and comedies while studying.
Young talents, such as Xuân Nghị and Tiến Dũng, made their debut in the troupe’s latest plays, the drama Ám Ảnh Kinh Hoàng (Scared Obsession) and comedy Ngã Rẽ (The Side).
“Why do we offer training courses? The answer is very simple. Our troupe’s plays use modern techniques and are challenging for the young staff, including graduates of the HCM City University of Theatre and Cinematography and the University of Culture, who are limited in performance experience and life skills,” said Vân.
“We ask our students to spend at least three years to study theatre, because with less time artists will not have enough to improve their skills.”
“Theatres, particularly private art troupes, should independently headhunt for and train their own staff of young performers,” added Vân, who has more than 25 years of experience on the stage and eight years in training.
Young actress Lê Lộc of the Hồng Vân Drama Troupe, owned by People’s Artist and famous comic actress Hồng Vân, which offers 11 training courses in different levels of performance. Photo courtesy of the producer
Theatre director Huỳnh Anh Tuấn of the IDECAF Drama Troupe, said: ”In theatre, you cannot perform unless you are properly trained. You can use a beauty queen or a fashion model to play in movie and TV shows. It’s impossible in theatre.”
“Traditional arts are particularly difficult to master,” he added.
It takes four or five years for a beginner to study and perform well a piece of traditional theatrical art. To become a professional, a young actor needs five more years working for leading theatres. Studying at school is not enough for students to properly know the art.
National contest targets students
“My teachers have helped my friends and I perfect our voice and performance skills at school. They helped our young actors to perform, and to believe that Vietnamese theatre can open up a future for us,” Trần Hồng Ngân, a female student at Thanh Hoá Province University of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said.
Ngân brought home the second prize for Best Drama Actress at the 2020 National Contest for Students of Art Schools and Centres held in Huế City in December.
The contest, organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, attracted more than 700 students, aged under 25, from 24 art schools and entertainment centres across the country.
It featured 200 performances in different genres of Vietnamese theatre, such as drama, quan họ (love duet), ca trù (ceremonial singing), chèo, tuồng, cải lương, puppetry and circus skills.
Students from the Hà Nội University of Theatre & Cinematography opened the contest with seven performances, themed Đồng Vọng (The Echo), featuring Vietnamese dance and theatre.
“Through our contest, young talents in theatre and traditional arts will be discovered and encouraged to develop their career,” said Lê Anh Tuấn, the head of the event’s organising board.
“I worked hard and played small roles on stage with my teachers during training. I believe I will win plaudits from audiences,” said Tiến Dũng, a graduate of Hồng Vân Drama Troupe.
Dũng will play the lead roles in Hồn Ma Báo Oán (Revenge of Ghost) and Oan Hồn Truyện (Story of the Haunted House), two new plays staged by Hồng Vân Drama Troupe to celebrate the Tết (Lunar New Year) season. VNS