Famous cai luong play from the 1980s to be restaged for Tet

Meritorious Artist and cai luong star Phuong Loan and her colleagues from the HCM City-based Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Theatre will stage a famous play from the 1980s by the late playwright and poet Luu Quang Vu of Hanoi. 

Famous cai luong play from the 1980s to be restaged for Tet
A poster for Nàng Xê Đa (Xê Đa), a cai luong (reformed opera) play staged by actors of the Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Theatre in HCM City. (Photo courtesy of the theatre) 

Loan plays Xê Đa, a beautiful and courageous woman, in Nàng Xê Đa, a tragedy about love, jealousy and betrayal.  

The play depicts the love between Xê Đa and her husband, Prince Pơliem, who destroys his love and marriage with his extreme jealousy. 

Loan’s colleagues, Meritorious Artist Le Hong Tham and Cao Thuy Vi, also perform as young Xê Đa.  

Young actor Vo Minh Lam plays Prince Pơliem.  

Famous cai luong play from the 1980s to be restaged for Tet
Veteran and young actors of HCM City’s Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Theatre will perform in the new version of the famous play Nàng Xê Đa (Xê Đa), a production about love and betrayal. Performances will be held every night during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday which begins on February 12. (Photo courtesy of the theatre)

The original version of Nàng Xê Đa was written for cheo (traditional opera), a form of Vietnamese theatre in the North. The play helped its creator, scriptwriter Vu, to become a phenomenon in the industry after its release in Hanoi in 1982. Vu worked with his father, author Luu Quang Thuan, to write the play.

Vu was born in 1948 in the northern province of Phu Tho. At the age of 20, his first poems were co-printed with famous poet Bang Viet. 

Vu composed 53 short and long plays, hundreds of poems, short stories, and articles about stage art. His dramatic plays include Sống Mãi Tuổi 17 (Forever 17), Hồn Trương Ba, Da Hàng Thịt (Trương Ba’s Soul, Butcher’s Body) and Lời Thề Thứ 9 (The Ninth Pledge).

His works are considered timeless. His plays have been adapted for a range of art forms, including cheo, cai luong (reformed opera), water puppetry and drama. 

He was awarded the Ho Chi Minh Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in art and literature in Vietnam, for his play Lời Thề Thứ 9 in 2000.

 

In 1982, Nàng Xê Đa was rewritten for cai luong by Ha Van of HCM City. Two years later, the play was first staged in a cai luong (reformed opera) version in HCM City, featuring young star Thanh Vi of Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Theatre. The play had 1,800 performances in the city and southern provinces. 

“In my cai luong version in 2021, Nàng Xê Đa will introduce the art in both old and new styles,” said the play’s director Hoa Ha, who has worked in theatre for 25 years. 

“Our actors will offer true cai luong, a traditional genre of southern theatre which began in the early 1920s in the Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta region, with modern technicques of performance.” 

“We will try our best to introduce the art closer to young people,” Ha said in an interview with Người Lao Động (Labourer) newspaper before the premiere on Saturday. 

Ha hired young talents such as Lam, Quoc Thanh and Cam Ngoc because he wanted to “refresh the play".

“Our new shows will target young audiences. We want to encourage audiences to learn more about Vietnamese history and culture through theatre,” said the theatre’s director Phan Quoc Kiet. “We began to hire staff and investment for these special shows last year.” 

Nàng Xê Đa will debut at 8pm on January 30 at Ben Thanh Theatre in District 1. It will be performed every night during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, which begins on February 12. VNS

Thu Anh 

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