The pandemic crisis has had a devastating effect on the performing arts. Watching theater, opera, and dance without leaving home sounds promising and is a good way to support artists. The show must go on…line!
Scene from “Benh si” (Dignity) at Vietnam National Drama Theatre
Performing arts hit hard
The Vietnam Circus Federation recently announced the cancellation of 38 art shows nationwide due to Covid-19. It cost 100 million VND to print leaflets for the shows, according to Deputy Director Tong Toan Thang.
The producer of the famous circus shows “A O”, “Lang Toi” (My village) and “Teh Dar”, after great efforts in advertising and taking measures to ensure epidemiological safety as recommended by the Health Sector, still had to ultimately back out of running all the shows in Hanoi, Hoi An and HCM City.
Plans made, rehearsal done, tickets sold… These could not make it possible for art performances to go as planned. Many annual shows are pending or have even been cancelled. Words fail to express how much artists miss being on stage, how struggling it is for theater managers to ensure a minimum income for everyone.
Theater streaming should not only be a solution in the Covid-19 situation but in the future. This must be seen as a new direction to approach the performing arts, a policy to attract a large audience. It is necessary to ensure professional artistic elements and ensure quality to maintain support from fastidious audiences.
Over three months ago, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ta Quang Dong met with the leader of The Department of Performing Arts (DPA) to discuss the operation of online theaters. Dong said it was crucial that DPA has its own channel to manage and introduce arts to the public in the current digital age. And there’s a lot to be done, including the coordination of communication channels, social resources, transceiver locations, technical support hiring plans, and broadcast construction.
The Deputy Director in charge of the Vietnam Drama Theater - Meritorious Artist Xuan Bac - expressed his strong approval for Dong’s idea. “However, there hasn’t been any specific plan. There is much work to handle first, let alone introduce them on Online Theaters," he said.
Others are concerned it will require lots of good techniques to fully express the on-stage spirit of the shows, and could prevent innovative content from flourishing. The performing arts are transformative because they intertwine personal narrative with performance, permitting audiences to connect with moments of individual instances. Everyone deserves to witness such impactful experiences without worrying about a price tag or distance. Yet, once these performances transfer online, the power, content and jobs that theaters provide could disappear.
Scene from “Hoa cuc xanh trong dam lay” (Blue Chrysanthemum in the Swamp) at Youth Theater.
Meritorious Artist Hoang Xuan Binh said: “The industry 4.0 era has made online education possible, so why should streaming performances be an exception?”
Streaming artistic performances promotes accessibility. By watching online, absurdly high ticket prices are immediately reduced or eliminated and commuting to a faraway theater is no longer necessary. Watching all kinds of plays, dances or comedies is undoubtedly a priceless experience, even if it is online.
In person, seeing more than two shows in a day is difficult to achieve. Online performances allow a viewer to see an infinite number of classic operas, ballets, musicals and even comedy acts in a short amount of time. People can then obtain a greater understanding and appreciation for the diverse types of performing arts.
“Art is also about support to artists, choreographers, musicians, singers... Now that the audience can’t show it directly due to the crisis, they can show it online. Actual deployment of Online Theaters should be authorized now,” Binh added.
There is no right time. There is just time. And we have to choose what to do with it.
Save the arts.
More than 60 Vietnamese singers, composers and theatre artists at home and abroad will take part in a livestream concert on YouTube to raise funds to support doctors and frontline workers in Da Nang and Quang Nam province
Multiple online entertainment platforms have started to provide exclusive content as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in demand for such services.