While independent stage productions in Vietnam remain dormant to anticipate audiences’ demand and pandemic rule changes, the government-funded troupes have already headed back to practice rooms in preparation for a magnificent return.
After receiving news of movement curb relaxation in Ho Chi Minh City in early October, Phuong Nam Theater Troupe wasted no time to call up a practice schedule for their new puppet show, 'Long Me” (Motherly Devotion), as well as a history play about Vietnam’s national hero Nguyen Trung Truc.
Back in June, a coronavirus resurgence in Ho Chi Minh City impeded the progress of their stage productions, among other local art and theater projects, as city leaders put tight restrictions on indoor activities.
Now, back in the practice room, they can finally bounce ideas off each other in person for the first time in months.
Live on YouTube
As current regulations have yet to allow theaters to open their doors to the public, Ho Chi Minh City-based theater Tran Huu Trang has devised a plan to bring ‘cai luong,’ a style of modern folk opera that originated in southern Vietnam, to cyberspace using the live broadcast feature of YouTube.
'Khat Vong Ngay Mai' (Aspirations for the Future), another ongoing production of Tran Huu Trang, which tells the story of Ho Chi Minh City’s ambitious plan for a metro train system, is set to hit the stage this December.
Meanwhile, a cai luong adaptation of Tiet Duy Hoa’s stage play ‘Nguoc Gio’ (Going Against the Wind), a hit production set against the backdrop of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region, will also make its first night showing in December.
Le Dien, director of Phuong Nam Theater, said his company is speeding up to fulfill their production plan for the year.
However, Dien and his artists are still kept in limbo when it comes to the prospect of in-person audiences — a sentiment echoed by Tran Huu Trang Theater leader Quoc Kiet.
Getting the show going
As witnessed by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper correspondents, the theater landscape in Hanoi is also warming up, with many programs set in motion as the coronavirus has been kept at bay.
In the meantime, the Vietnam Circus Federation is trying out an intersection of circus art and cai luong with their new production ‘Thuong Thien Thanh Mau’ (Divine Mother Goddess), which was scheduled for performance at Au Co Theater in November.
The National Cai Luong Theater is picking up speed with the resumption of several cai luong projects, one of them ‘Nguyen Cam Ca - Kieu,' a reimagination of Nguyen Du’s literary masterpiece ‘Truyen Kieu’ (The Tale of Kieu), which is slated for the big stage in December.
The theater’s ensemble is also producing another cai luong work, entitled ‘Nuoc Non Van Dam,’ (Ten Thousand Miles of a Country), a commission from the Ministry of Information and Communications.
‘Hung Dong’ (Daybreak), a cai luong show about Vietnamese revolutionary Phan Dang Luu, has begun taping at the National Cai Luong Theater.
It will be submitted to competitive categories at the annual ASEAN-China Theatre and Drama Festival in China’s Nanjing later this year.