Young talent avoids classical drama

Published: 11/06/2011 05:00



performing arts scene has expanded rapidly in recent years with an increasing
volume of young talents achieving success. But the action has been confined to
modern art forms, with traditional forms like tuong (classical drama) being

Times are changing
: A scene from
the cai luong (reformed theatre) play Ke Si Thang Long (Thang Long’s Scholars)
performed by artists from the Ha Noi Cai Luong Theatre. Traditional art forms
like this are being ignored as more and more young talent enters the performing
arts scene, but mostly in modern performances.
(Photo: VNS)

For instance, some
2,000 candidates applied to the Ha Noi University of Theatre and Cinematography
this year, but none to the tuong course, Le Chuc, deputy chairman of the Viet
Nam Theatre Artists Association, said.

“We are facing a
shortage of young, skilled tuong performers,” he lamented.

Chuc, himself a tuong
actor, said cultural authorities need to invest in producing talented young
artists if the art is to truly develop.

The art originated in
the 12th century, but its growth occurred mainly in the 17th century.

Along with cheo
(traditional opera) in the north and cai luong (reformed theatre) in the south,
tuong defines the quintessence of Vietnamese culture.

Tuong is a
particularly difficult art to master, Chuc said.

“In theatre or film,
amateurs can practise a bit and perform, but you cannot perform tuong unless you
are properly trained.”

To perform, artists
use almost all the parts of their body. If they lack a powerful voice, they
cannot sing and dance while also expressing the emotions of each character.

It is an exhausting
art because it involves wearing costumes that sometimes weigh up to 10kg.

Many tuong performers
also sing pop and quan ho (traditional love duets from Bac Ninh Province) to
earn a living, Nguyen Thi Loc Huyen from the Viet Nam National Tuong Theatre,

“The fact is that none
of us can live on our salary – of around VND2 million (US$100) a month – even if
we are stars.”

“Though our lives are
hard, we have a passion for tuong,” the 30-year-old actress added.

The lack of audiences
is also a problem because they are the “key to the survival of traditional stage
arts and classical drama in particular.”

Huyen’s theatre can
call on 73 performers and music players, few aged below 30.

Chuc said: “We should
have a new generation of audience who understand and like tuong.”

Tuong, which developed
from a folk art into a royal art, uses themes eulogising loyalty to the monarch
and patriotic duty.

The art consists of
singing and dancing, which is highly stylised and filled with symbolism.

The actors’ gestures
together with a good deal of imagination from the audience help create the

There is minimal use
of props and equipment.

Ha Noi, HCM City, Da
Nang, Hue city, Thanh Hoa, Binh Dinh, and Khanh Hoa provinces each have a
professional tuong theatre.

Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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