Online art project on Vietnamese theater takes the stage

Online art project on Vietnamese theater takes the stage
A current highlight of the online art project ‘Truong Ca Kich Vien’ (The Epic of Theater) is an exhibition featuring photos and videos of ‘tuong’ – a form of Vietnamese theater that began in the 17th century. (Photo courtesy of the project)

The project, Truong Ca Kich Vien (The Epic of Theatre), is created and managed by Nguyen Huu Duong and his staff, who have got together from different universities and colleges across the country.

It aims to introduce and expose young people to many genres of Vietnamese theater including tuong or hat boi (classical drama), cai luong (reformed opera) and cheo (popular opera). The project are also music genres preservation and propagation of traditional music like Nhac Nhac Nhac and Hat xam (blind busker’s singing), which features often in traditional theatre.

Water puppetry, a 1000-year-old folk art where the stage is a pool of water, is also included in the project which collects and propagates information, paintings and photographs featuring performers and plays, as also traditional instruments and attires used in different theater genres.

The fanpage of the project’s website, http://truongcakichvien, has attracted more than 4,000 views to date.

The web has three sections: The Arts, Exhibitions and Stories.

‘Exhibitions’ displays photos, pictures and videos on seven genres of Vietnamese theater and folk arts.

Currently highlighted photos and videos feature tuong – a form of Vietnamese theater that originated in the 17th century in the central region before expanding to southern Vietnam, particularly the Mekong River Delta.

Books and documents by cultural researchers and veteran artists of tuong are also included in the exhibition section.

“Our online project provides young people with better knowledge of Vietnamese theater and folk art,” said founder Duong, who researched in Australia, said.

“Through the project, we hope people around the world can learn more about traditional songs, tunes and dances used in Vietnamese theater and folk art,” he added.

Duong’s love for Vietnamese theater began when he was at school. It led him to research the various genres and explore them in greater depth.

He and his staff are working to release videos featuring plays and performances. They also plan to release talks and writings by artists as well as fans.

They are working with the state-owned Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Theatre, one of the southern region’s leading institutions of its kind.

Meritorious Artist and actor Le Thien of the HCM City Theater Association has welcomed the initiative shown by the young people.

“The online project Truong Ca Kich Vien encourages youth to discover Vietnamese theatre, which is part of their heritage and some of the arts that are hundreds of years old”, he said.

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