HCM City lacks quality theatrical scripts

Due to a shortage of skilled and professional writers, HCM City’s theatre industry lacks quality scripts that meet the demand of theatre-goers.

HCM City lacks quality theatrical scripts
Bông hồng cái áo, among many traditional scripts, has been re-introduced as a way to maintain audience interest. Photo courtesy of sggp.org.vn

Many theatre pieces have been around for years and have repeatedly been re-introduced on stage, according to Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper.

Numerous cải lương performances, for example, have been performed again and again, including Giấc mông đêm xuân, Nhân danh công lý, Tìm lại cuộc đời, Lan và Điệp, Chuyện tình Khau Vai, Áo cưới trước cổng chùa and Ngai vàng và tội ác, among others.

Meanwhile, many drama theatres have chosen to reboot old pieces such as Bỉ vỏ, Con nhà nghèo, Bông hồng cái áo, Tuyết Sài Gòn, Mặt nạ bong bóng, Diều ơi, and Đẹp bất chấp.

Though there are a few writers who can write dramas, the quality of the performances is limited to meeting the style of each stage. Some playrights have even failed to write about the contemporary cultural and artistic life.

Since the content of old scripts is considered to be of high quality and artists are allowed by authorities to perform these pieces, the overuse of old scripts appears to be the only solution to keep the theatre alive, especially cải lương.

Despite audience support for these performances, relying on old scripts should only be a temporary solution, according to experts.

People’s Artists Hong Van said that writers today were staying away from themes about contemporary life.

“Many writers choose to follow themes of 'artistic' writing during their writing-oriented camps and ignore what really attracts the public,” she said.

No major changes are expected in the next year or even years to come because a serious shortage of quality theatrical scripts from both the past and present exists, she added.

Upcoming performances

Though Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday is near, many theatres have been struggling to select scripts and come up with interesting performances for audiences.

Tre Theatre has decided to book Tet scripts from their familiar writers specialising in writing in the theatre’s style, including Nguyen Thu Phuong, Bui Quoc Bao, Cao Tan Loc, and Nguyen Bao Ngoc.


The theatre will introduce three new plays during the Tết holiday, one of which is adapted from a foreign script called Âm mưu hoàn hảo (Perfect Plot).

Meanwhile, Hong Van Theatre will showcase Ngẫm Kiều at the Phu Nhuan Cultural Centre and Garden Mall in District 5.

The drama was staged during the Kiều Experimental Stage Project, organised by the Goethe-Institute.

This coming Tet, Idecaf Theatre will introduce Âm mưu Tú Bà, while Hoang Thai Thanh Theatre will invest in a play called Tình yêu trời đánh.

A representative of Idecaf Theatre, Huynh Anh Tuan, said that the limited number of scripts had caused inconveniences to theatres.

“It is already difficult to find good scripts during the off-peak season, let alone Tet. This is why many theatre keeps rebooting old pieces,” he added.

Director Ai Nhu said that finding good scripts was a very stressful process.

“When a good plot is selected, Hoang Thai Thanh Theatre will support authors to produce a quality play,” she said.

Authorities need to come up with long-term solutions to help change the landscape of HCM City’s theatre industry, experts have said.

People’s Artist Tran Minh Ngoc said that talented writers are needed to develop the theatre. “When there is a quality script, the director will have enough material to demonstrate their skills and artists will be inspired to put on a good performance."

Writers with potential should receive sufficient training in order to keep the industry alive, he added. – VNS

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