Traditional theatrical arts approach audience in Ho Chi Minh City
Update: Dec 20, 2022
To preserve and promote traditional arts, aside from training the next generation of young artists, it is equally important to have a new generation of audience members. Art troupes in Ho Chi Minh City have performed in schools to rekindle students’ love for the traditional arts.

People’s Artist Huu Danh introduces Boi or Tuong art to students. (Photo: VOV)

The yard of Binh Tri Dong Secondary School in Binh Tan district is more bustling than usual. After classes are finished, hundreds of students remain at school to watch a Cai luong or Reformed opera performance of folk story "Thach Sanh-Ly Thong" by Tran Huu Trang Theater.

The performance is not academic but has been gracefully modified to make students excited and enthusiastically interact with the artists. A student shared her feeling: “I’m very joyful. The artist’s make up is strange and fascinating.”

They all said that the program was very interesting, telling moral fairy tales.

“I found it to be a meaningful performance. We know about Cai luong traditional arts and many fairy tales. We thank the artists for helping us learn more about this unique Vietnamese theatrical art,” one student said.

The program "Art performance for children" is part of a "School theater" project launched by the Department of Culture and Sports, the Youth Union of Ho Chi Minh City and art troupes.

Every week art troupes take turnsperformingin schools. Each program lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour during the flag-salute session on Monday morning or afternoon extracurriculars.

Hoai Nam, Head of the Art Department of Tran Huu Trang Theater, said: “In order to help the children interact with Cai Luong, the artists change and vary their performance from performing for adults. When performing for children, they make the play more concise and easier to understand.”

The "School theater" project also visits universities and colleges in Ho Chi Minh City.  Most recently, artists of the Ho Chi Minh City Boi or Tuong Classical Opera held an exchange with students of Van Lang University. The students enjoyed the plays and introduction of the formation and development of boi art, masquerade masks, the art of symbolism.

People’s Artist Huu Danh said: “On a boi stage there are always two main characters, the loyal one with a red face and the fawnerwith a pale white face.  The blue-faced character is intelligent, clever, reckless, and short-lived. If you see a character with a blue face on the stage, that character may die in the middle of the performance, maybe in a battle.”

Artists of Tran Huu Trang Cai luong Theater perform in front of Ho Chi Minh Opera House. (Photo: VOV) 

Many students first watch the performance out of curiosity, but after watching and listening to the artists, they became fascinated. Minh Chau, a student of the Faculty of Industrial Fine Arts of Van Lang University, said: “The program was very interesting. The artists helped me better understand boi singing. I am studying art design, so I find the masks and costumesvery special. I think I can apply it to my future designs.”

In addition to bringing art to students, art troupes in Ho Chi Minh City also organize free performances in public spaces such as the Le Van Duyet Mausoleum relic site and Hung Kings’ Temple at the Botanical Garden. They also display photos introducing characters in the play.

Nguyen Thanh Binh from the Ho Chi Minh City Boi Opera Theater said: “We have gained positive feedbacks and more audience members, particularly young people. The theater’s director and artists have renewed themselves while holding classic values. We must inspire young audience to our performances.”

Thao Ngoc

VOVWORLD - - December 17, 2022