Hanoi (VNA) – In recent years, troupes of "cai luong" (literally translated as "reformed theatre", a traditional musical performance art of Vietnam) have put on many revolution-themed plays with good scripts and new performance methods, touching the heart of the audience.
Pathetic but majestic plays
Among the plays about the revolution and heroes in the resistance wars against France and the US, the first was "Nguoi cong dan so mot" (No 1 Citizen) organised by the Central Cai Luong Theatre in 1976. It was followed by "Dem trang" (Sleepless Night) scripted by Luu Quang Ha and directed by Doan Hoang Giang, "Nguoi con gai dat do" (The girl of the red land) by the Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Theatre, "Hung Dong" (Dawn) by the Vietnam Cai Luong Theatre, and "To quoc noi cuoi con duong" (Fatherland at the end of the path) scripted by Le Thu Hanh and directed by Le Nguyen Dat.
Making debut in 2016, "Hung dong", which depicted the veteran revolutionary Phan Dang Luu, made a great impression on the audience in both the northern and southern regions. It was also recorded and broadcast on many TV channels.
"I think that once the audience love 'cai luong', they will also be open to different themes such as society, war, revolution… because the soul of the plays is still the 'cai luong' songs that they love," said People's Artist Trieu Trung Kien, Acting Director of the Vietnam Cai Luong Theatre and director of this play.
The viewpoint that the themes of history and revolution are boring and full of propaganda is inaccurate, he said, noting that the matter is how the storytelling method and the screenplay are.
Meritorious Artist Le Chuc, former Deputy Director of the Department of Performing Arts under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said "cai luong" is attractive thanks to its emotional lyrics, conversations, and performance style that make the audience burst into tears.
Revolutionaries had their own tragedies, and lyrics about them are also tearful. However, Chuc said, the causes of those tragedies were nobler than anything else since revolutionaries' ideals were devoting themselves to the Fatherland and compatriots.
These "cai luong" plays are pathetic but also majestic, he added.
Reforming performance methods
The revolution-related themes focusing on national heroes are always a great challenge to "cai luong" directors and artists, Chuc noted.
He added he used to wonder whether or not artists should sing "cai luong" when acting President Ho Chi Minh on stage.
In a show of the Sen Village Festival in Nghe An province, Chuc directed a play where three periods of the late President's career were reenacted by artists Quang Khai, Manh Hung, and Xuan Vinh using performance methods of both drama and "cai luong".
At the 2018 national " cai luong " festival, Le Chuc and other judges gave the first prize to "To quoc noi cuoi con duong", directed by Le Nguyen Dat, given the play's creativity.
Re-enacting the incident that Nguyen Ai Quoc, the then name of Ho Chi Minh, was imprisoned while doing revolutionary activities under the alias of Tong Van So in Hong Kong, the play was not only a "cai luong" performance in the traditional style but combined singing, acting, and music with fast and modern rhythm.
Meanwhile, "Hung dong" (Dawn) by Trieu Trung Kien applied a LED display and modern sound and lighting systems. In particular, it combined traditional "cai luong" with street music.
Director Kien said he is working on a new "cai luong" play about Ho Chi Minh's overseas journey to seek ways for national salvation.
The theme about President Ho Chi Minh is the biggest challenge to him, Kien noted, adding that the play must be historically accurate and have creative things at the same time to attract the audience.
Meritorious Artist Quang Khai, who acted the part of revolutionary Phan Dang Luu in the play "Hung dong", held that the country's history always needs to be repeated so as to turn patriotism into part of Vietnamese people in every generation.
Like in other wars recorded in history, the Vietnamese people have been standing side by side with one another in the fight against COVID-19. The national pride is still shown clearly in these trying times, according to Khai./.
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