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Project preserves cai luong with new plays

A long-term drama project featuring the traditional music genre of the southern region, cai luong (reformed opera), organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, is expected to attract young audiences back to the theatre this year.


Young and veteran artists perform in a show that is part of a theatre project launched last year by veteran cai luong artists of HCM City. — Photo courtesy of the producer


The project, called Huyền Sử Việt (Vietnamese Legendary History), will introduce a series of new plays on historical events and national heroes. The first part of the project, between 2020 and 2030, includes four plays.

The first play, Chử Đồng Tử, Tiên Dung (Love Story of Chu Dong Tu and Princess Tien Dung), will be staged by artists from the Vietnam Cai Luong Theatre, one of the region’s leading cai luong troupes.

The work was written by late artist Hoang Luyen, while the rewrite is by Le The Song in a new version in an experimental style.

The work, based on a very old legend in the north of Vietnam, tells the love story of Princess Tien Dung and her husband, Chu Dong Tu, a fisherman.

The Princess, the third daughter of King Hung Vuong, travels in a boat to visit Chu Xa, a small fishing village in Hung Yen Province. She takes a bath in the river where Tu is diving for fish. Both suddenly meet while they are naked.

Tu’s family is the poorest and owns only a pair of trousers. He does not wear any clothing so he can keep his trousers dry while he is fishing.

After hearing his story, the Princess realises their meeting was destined and decides to marry Tu. They later live together at Chu Xa Village and help villagers have better life.

Today, villagers in Chu Xa organise the Chu Dong Tu Festival on the 10th day of the second lunar month. The festival celebrates love and is seen as a Valentine’s Day.

Three plays about three saints with Vietnamese beliefs, Tan Vien Son Thanh of Ba Vi Commune, Phu Dong Thien Vuong of Gia Lam Commune in Hanoi, and Princess Lieu Hanh of Nam Dinh Province, will also be staged by veteran and young performers from Hanoi, HCM City and southern provinces.

Performers from the Vietnam Circus Federation will appear in the four plays.

“Our project, Huyền Sử Việt, offers cai luong plays using unique tunes of the art since its beginnings in My Tho in Tien Giang Province in the 1920s,” said a representative of the project’s producers.

“We have invited skilled artists from leading theatres, Vietnam Television (VTV) and Ho Chi Minh Television (HTV) to write, direct and produce shows for the project,” he added.
The plays will be broadcast live on VTV and HTV channels.

More plays about historical events during the Tran, Dinh and Ly dynasties will be staged during the project’s second period. — VNS

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