Young actress Nhã Thi, one of the city’s younger talents in the traditional operatic arts. Photo courtesy of HCM City Theatre Association
HCM CITY— Young artists in traditional music and theatre are working to develop and promote their art among young audiences in HCM City.
"I believe that becoming a cải lương (reformed opera) artist was my destiny," said actress Trần Ngọc Nhã Thi, one of the city’s younger talents in the traditional operatic arts.
“I decided to improve my art, cải lương, a unique theatre of the South that began 100 years ago, by studying because I wanted to provide some new offerings for theatre lovers, particularly younger audiences.”
Thi recently passed the entrance exam to become a student in theatre directing at the HCM City University of Theatre & Cinematography. She will spend three years at the school starting in April.
She was also honoured with the title 'Outstanding Young Resident of HCM City 2020' presented by the Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union last month. The annual awards aim to encourage young people who have made contributions in different fields to the city.
In her mid-20s, the talented Thi has faced challenges luring audiences back to cải lương theatre. “Without my fans' support, cải lương will not survive,” said Thi.
Since winning her first high prize at the National Traditional Theatre Festival for Young Talents in 2017, Thi has worked very hard, improving her skills and creativity.
She has won top prizes at leading theatre contests and festivals, including the Golden Medal at Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Awards 2020 presented by HCM City’s Theatre Association.
Viewing Thi performing on stage, many in the audience are deeply moved by the power of her singing.
"I can earn a good income from my art," she said.
Thi now works for the prestigious Trần Hữu Trang Theatre, performing in dozens of plays and TV shows viewed by thousands of audiences across the country.
In recent years, the performing arts scene has expanded rapidly with an increasing number of young talents achieving success in modern art forms, but traditional forms like drama, chèo (traditional opera) cải lương (reformed theatre) and tuồng (classical drama) have been ignored. Photo courtesy of HCM City Theatre Association
Talented actress Nguyễn Ngọc Giàu of the HCM City Hát Bội Theatre began her career when she was 14 years old.
She learned tuồng or hát bội (classical drama), a traditional theatre of the central region originating in the 12th century, before training with veteran actors of the theatre.
“I had my first lessons in singing and performance skills from veteran performer Hữu Danh, who discovered my ability," said Giàu, one of the young tuồng stars of HCM City Hát Bội Theatre.
Her beauty and sweet voice were often her signature attraction on stage.
Giàu deeply respected her older colleagues but she did not want to live in their shadow.
"To escape the domination of veterans, I have worked hard to demonstrate my own personal style on stage," said Giàu, adding that tuồng needs to be more innovative on the stage.
Giàu is working on Vương Thuý Kiều (The Tale of Kiều), a new play based on the Vietnamese epic by famous poet Nguyễn Du (1766-1820).
She plays a lead role in the tragic story directed by People’s Artist Trần Ngọc Giàu. The play will make its debut on April 30.
In recent years, the performing arts scene has expanded rapidly with an increasing number of young talents achieving success in modern art forms, but traditional forms like chèo (traditional opera) cải lương and tuồng have been ignored.
“Traditional arts are especially difficult to master,” said theatre critic and director Thanh Hiệp of HCM City’s Theatre Artists Association.
According to Hiệp, you can use a beauty queen or a fashion model to play in movie and TV shows, but that’s impossible in theatre.
“To develop traditional theatre, we need more young, skilled performers like Thi and Giàu,” he said. — VNS