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Actor devotes his life to entertaining kids (November 05, 2006)

Thanh Loc, one of the most popular actors in HCM City, has played a key role in the development of the cityís theatre scene. A freelance actor, Loc has wowed audiences with a host of State-owned and private drama troupes. Anh Thu talks with Loc about his love for children and his new play, Na Tra Dai Nao Thuy Cung (Nezha Conquers the Dragon Kings), now showing at Ben Thanh Theatre to packed crowds.

Inner Sanctum: Young audiences visit the theatre because they want to see you on stage. What is the key to your success?

I would be nothing without my colleagues. Making a quality play is like building a house because both are the result of a team. Iím lucky because my partners, including supporting artists and specialists in sound and light effects as well as stage workers, are skilled and creative. All of us share a love for children.

Inner Sanctum: Like Na Tra Dai Nao Thuy Cung, your previous plays for children were very successful at the box office. What are the decisive factors that attract young audiences?

They are humour, meaning, creativity and imagination. The stage should be designed with beautiful scenes and have interesting sound and light effects. Artists should perform in beautiful, colourful costumes.

Inner Sanctum: Do you have any advice to organisers of childrenís programme?

In Cau Be Rung Xanh (Forest Boy), a comedy of 100 performers, circus artists and animals, I played the bad character Artful Wolf. I used funny words and foolish actions to depict my role. Children enjoyed it and laughed at me. I think smiles and joy can help our children live better.

But younger audiencesí demands are not currently being met. Many music and song festivals, and entertainment programmes on TV or radio, are poorly made and boring.

We should understand and identify what children want in entertainment activities. To create a quality programme for children, organisers should work professionally and spend much more time on human resources and finance.

Inner Sanctum: Last month HCM City hosted the 2006 National Theatre Festival, which aims to popularise and expand Vietnamese theatre by gaining State support for private drama troupes. Whatís your opinion about the festival?

I noticed that some drama troupes created plays for the festival but they had no projects to introduce their works to audiences. And I never heard about some participantsí activities. I think the festival didnít reflect the theatre marketís real activities. In my view, a useful work should live for a long time in the mind of audiences.

Inner Sanctum: So how can we develop and support drama activities or private troupes?

Human resources. We need active people, who have good knowledge and professional skills. They must be open-minded so they can gain new information and adopt modern technology from other countries. Our theatre doesnít need authorities and artists who work in a conservative style.

Inner Sanctum: Some people complain that private troupes care more about earning money than producing quality works. Whatís your view?

Iím very surprised at this view. First, trying to make money from a play is good. Second, we create artworks because we want to serve audiences. Audiences pay money to visit the theatre.

A playís ticket sales will reflect its quality in general, whether it is from a private or State-owned troupe. I donít care about what your way of performing is, but Iím concerned about how your product attracts audiences.

Inner Sanctum: With Viet Nam about to become a member of the World Trade Organisation, Vietnamese business people are preparing to face new opportunities and challenges. What about the artistic field?

The countryís entertainment industry is unprofessional. Working in a more open market with fierce competition, Iím sure our artists will face many difficulties. We have to improve our skills, both in performance and business, and we can do that through our foreign partners.

Inner Sanctum: What do you think about young artists? If you have one message to your younger colleagues, what would it be?

Younger artists are luckier than my generation because they have more opportunities to improve their appearance and performance skills. I recently read in a local newspaper a message from one of the cityís most famous young actresses: "Donít ask artists to perform well while giving them low pay." I was very disappointed to read that. A good artist performs for art and audiences, not for money.

Inner Sanctum: Have you performed in any serious plays recently?

Yes. I have been in three serious plays staged in different theatres, including Nguoi Dan Ba Khong Ngu (Sleepless Woman), Tinh Yeu Khong Thien Duong (Love without Heaven) and Hanh Phuc Tren Doi Hoa Mau (Happiness on the Blood Flower Hill). In these works, I play different characters. Weíve also prepared new programmes for the upcoming year.

Inner Sanctum: Drama critics say for the next 20 years or more, no one will be able to replace you on stage. What do you think?

No. Art is not a replacement, but a series of processes, from the older generation to younger one, a process that leads to new heights of creativity.

Inner Sanctum: Do you want to be called Emeritus Artist Thanh Loc or just a simple Uncle Thanh Loc, the name that children use to call you?

Please call me a simple Thanh Loc. ó VNS

Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency


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