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Tuong resurrects Vietnamese Le Cid on
Munich stage

Cultural adaptation: A traditional Vietnamese take on Le Cid kicks off German-Vietnamese Culture week with a unique brand of East meets West chemistry.
Dong Lo Dich, the Vietnamese classical drama adapted from the famous French tragedy Le Cid, will be staged in Munich during the German-Vietnamese Culture Week, which comes on the heels of the same celebratory week in Ha Noi.

The classical tragedy by Pierre Corneille, a great French dramatist of the 17th century was originally adapted by Ung Binh Thuc Gia Thi in 1928, a mandarin-poet of the early 20th century. Dong Lo Dich was resurrected in Ha Noi, Hue and HCM originally in 2000.

Corneille’s Spanish characters have become "Vietnamised"– Don Le Cid is Dong Lo Dich, Chimene Chi Manh, and Don Gormaz Dong Ngo Mac. In the adapted version, the characters wear the costumes and speak the language used by the mandarins at the same era of history in the 17th century.

While most classical dramas created in Viet Nam were based on old Chinese stories, Dong Lo Dich was the country’s first theatre production adapted from a European literary work.

The play harmoniously blends western culture with the Vietnamese psyche and successfully makes the French drama fit within the artistic framework of tuong, a traditional Vietnamese stage art which uses symbolic gestures to convey the interactions between characters.

Beyond adaptation of form, the Vietnamese poet also included cultural changes as well.

After killing the father of his lover in a duel, Dong Lo Dich departs to fight foreign aggressors. It is only after he has fulfilled his duty to his father and his fatherland that the hero surrenders to his lover, asking her to take out her revenge on him for killing her father. In Le Cid, Corneille hints that Chimene may forgive Le Cid and marry him. In Ung Binh Thuc Gia Thi’s version Chi Manh, the Vietnamese heroine, chooses a solution which shows more of the author’s oriental mind. Torn between her love and her filial duty, Chi Manh leaves everything and goes into exile, seeking total oblivion in the Buddha.

The play will be performed in Munich by Binh Dinh Province’s Dao Tan Tuong Troupe, one of the country’s most well-known traditional theatre groups. This is the Dao Tan Tuong Troupe’s first tour to Europe.

The German-Vietnamese Culture Week, which continues until October 18, will also include performances of Vietnamese traditional music and an introduction to Hue’s royal cuisine.

Professor Tran Van Khe, an honorary music member of UNESCO, will fly to Munich to give talks on Vietnamese tuong traditional drama and traditional music during the programme.

Reprinted with permission from VietNam News Agency.


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