HCM CITY — Facing challenges as the COVID-10 pandemic spreads, Huỳnh Long Tuồng Troupe, one of HCM City’s private theatres, is working to offer new shows of tuồng or hat boi (classical drama), a Vietnamese traditional theatre genre that originated in the 12th century.
The troupe will restage a series of famous plays in the 1960-70s written and directed by late veteran artist Bạch Mai, the troupe’s founder.
Mai played a role in the development of tuồng. She was famous in the 1960s, starring in 60 plays in tuồng and cải lương (reformed opera), a 100-year-old traditional genre of Vietnamese theatre in the South.
She wrote and directed dozens of tuồng plays, many of which won top prizes for best plays at national theatre contests and festivals.
She worked with State-owned and private theatres and art schools in the region to offer training for artists, including cải lương stars Kim Tử Long and Ngọc Huyền.
In 2017, she opened Huỳnh Long Troupe featuring 30 actors, mostly graduates of leading art schools in the region.
She died at age 74 after days of COVID-19 treatment in hospital in HCM City in August.
Her troupe is managed by her daughter, actress Bình Tinh, who has nearly 20 years of experience in cải lương.
“My mom, Bạch Mai, wanted our troupe to become a place for people to enjoy tuồng in a unique way. She hoped our young actors will preserve and bring the art closer to young audiences," said the troupe’s head and art director Tinh.
Tinh and her staff are working on new versions of historical plays Thất Tinh Mai (Mai’s Love Story), Xử Án Phi Giao (Royal Trials) and Ngo Quyền Va Chiến Thắng Bạch Đằng Giang (Ngo Quyền and the Great Victory on Bạch Đằng River).
These productions were written and directed by Mai and have been staged many times by different generations.
Tinh adds modern styles to these new versions to meet the taste of young audiences.
She uses young talents, Mỹ Chau, Đăng Khoa and Quốc Thanh, graduates of the HCM City University of Theatre & Cinematography, to play leading roles.
“We will offer quality shows with images, sounds and music, that provide young audiences with wonderful insights about their history, traditional culture and theatre,” said 40-year-old Tinh.
Highligted shows include Ngo Quyền Va Chiến Thắng Bạch Đằng Giang, a historical story featuring the Bạch Đằng Battle of 938 on the Bạch Đằng River between Vietnamese troops led by Ngo Quyền and Chinese invaders under the Han dynasty.
Quyền at the time asked his troops to plant iron-headed wooden stakes, invisible during high tides, into the river bed. After he launched a counter-attack at low tide, the enemy's large boats ran aground as they were pierced by long stakes.
The victory of Bạch Đằng ended the 1,000-year Chinese domination of Viet Nam, opening a period of Viet Nam's independence and sovereignty. Quyền became the King and ruled the Ngo Dynasty.
“Our veteran artists help young talents improve their vocal and performance skills in the hopes that they will renew the art," said Tinh, who works hard to maintain her family’s artistic tradition.
New shows by Tinh and her actors are scheduled to be staged every Sunday in December at 144 Đinh Tien Hoang Street in Bình Thạnh District. — VNS
- New programme on cải lương, tuồng launched
- Art project preserves tuồng
- TV programme featuring cải lương, tuồng performers launched
- HCM City actors celebrate 100 years of Vietnamese drama
- The Artists' Wall talk show features theatre artists
- Cải lương star performs in TV shows
- Cải lương stars perform in TV show
- New art programme preserves tuồng
- New TV programme on Vietnamese theatre airs
- Book on cải lương guru reprinted