Vietnam Art Books -- Artists revive traditional southern theatre (October 02, 2003)

Artists revive traditional southern theatre (October 02, 2003)

Eight young performers from Ho Chi Minh City and Cite Long (Mekong) Delta provinces have won gold medals at the Tran Huu Trang Prize 2003, which seeks to revive the traditional southern Vietnamese theatre genre, cai luong (reformed opera).

The competition was held in Ho Chi Minh City over a period of two months, attracting hundreds of young artists from amateur and professional troupes from the city and southern provinces.

Cai luong originated shortly after World War I, and was based on popular music from western Cochinchina. The form often looks for inspiration in ancient legends, as well as romantic novels.

In comparison with tuong (classical opera) and cheo (popular opera), cai luong is a relatively new type of theatre genre. If tuong is reminiscent of royal courts and cheo is popular in the countryside, cai luong has a distinctly urban feature. The sweet young voices in a cai luong play are often its signature attraction."

After receiving Tran Huu Trang prizes, we hope our young artists will understand more about their duty to preserve cai luong theatre," said the Ho Chi Minh City Stage Art Association (HSAA) general secretary Le Duy Hanh.

Hanh said his association also aims to celebrate connections between young talent with veteran artists, music researchers and cai luong fans through the show.

"Following in the footsteps of older artists, who lived and worked for cai luong, we are trying to provide new offerings for theatre lovers, particularly younger audiences," said Nguyen Thy Trang, one of the eight young artists who received a gold medal this year.

In her mid-twenties, Trang has faced challenges to lure audiences back to cai luong, but said, "I strongly believe in the power of cai luong. "

Trang performed well in an excerpt from 'Luat Troi Va Long Nguoi' (God's Law and Man's Heart), a play which has made many artists famous. "I tried to make an impression on the judges and audiences, giving a new spin on the form, combining traditional and modern styles," she said. "Like my colleagues in the competition, I gave my performance everything I have. I don't want to live in the shadow of great cai luong stars like Vu Linh and Ngoc Huyen. "

"To escape the domination of veterans, Trang and other participants had to work hard to demonstrate their own personal style on stage," Hanh said. "Cai luong theatre needs brave artists like them." (VNS)

Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency


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