VietNamNet Bridge – Theatres in HCM City are losing audiences and battling to stay alive in a losing fight against television.
Artists performing a play at Phu Nhuan Theatre.
The 5B Theatre and Thuan Viet Theatre have closed, while Phu Nhuan Theatre is struggling to stay open. Several plays at Hoang Thai Thanh Theatre had to be cancelled because too few tickets were sold.
Huynh Anh Tuan, director of the Thai Duong Company, said, "We are wholly depending on the children's play series 'Once upon a time'. Profits from this series are used to offset loses from other plays. We can't afford to invest in new equipment because we are trying everything to save money to stay open."
Tuan said new plays were a risk. "A major play, which needed VND500 million (USD22,700) before, now costs at least VND1 billion," he said.
Tuan Tu said he abandoned theatre-going due to the bloom of entertainment on television and the internet. Watching TV at home was more comfortable than sitting in an old building with outdated equipment.
Linh Chi, another former avid theatre goer, said, "There are always new films and series on TV, while the plays in theatres are rarely changed. They became boring."
Hong Van, director of the Phu Nhuan Theatre, said rent was rising and many veteran artists were too busy with TV programmes and movies to return to the stage.
Actress Ai Nhu said TV was more attractive to performers because it paid better than live theatre.