The Vietnamese art scene has shown encouraging signs of revival after being devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic as the country moves into a ‘new normal’.

Artists from the Vietnam Drama Theatre performed their first show since the pandemic by staging the play Bệnh Sỹ (Egotism) by Luu Quang Vu on May 23 at Hanoi Opera House. The show was the first of a series of shows by 12 theatres under the culture ministry.

Each theatre has been working to draw in an audience.

Artists from the Vietnam Circus Federation have trained hard despite the baking summer heat.

“We would practise even if it was hotter,” said People’s Artist Tong Toan Thang, deputy director of the federation. “As the art of circus needs fluent co-operation between individual artists. Each person practising separately at home cannot make up for a mass rehearsal.”

After the Lunar New Year, artists at the federation stayed home from work for about four months due to the pandemic before returning in May.

Thang said he and his colleagues thought hard about attracting an audience as people still hesitate to join mass gatherings.

Instead of waiting for schools to come to sign contracts with the federation to perform at closing ceremonies, the federation asked schools to hold their ceremonies at the theatre.

Dozens of such shows have taken place at the theatre. The regular Tân Cướp Biển 2020 (New Pirates 2020) show and traditional circus shows have also been performed.

The federation has travelled to other provinces like Quang Ninh to perform at Circus Gala of Three Regions.

Circus artists march in Bai Chay City in the northern province of Quang Ninh at the end of May in the framework of the first Three Region Circus Gala. — Photo  

Some 25 shows have been performed by the federation since May, which account for only 20 per cent of the same period in 2019, Thang said.

“Each show, the audience filled about 800 of the 1,300 seat capacity,” Thang said. “But that’s a great encouragement for us.”

Le Ngoc Drama Stage, a private theatre in the north, has returned since May with a children’s play titled Cây Tre Thần (Magic Bamboo), which was performed non-stop at Dai Nam Cinema in downtown Hanoi for 20 nights with some 500 people each night in attendance.

The stage has also opened in HCM City with 16 shows of various plays. In each show, some 400 tickets were sold.

Children’s Day on June 1 was a golden chance for theatres to draw crowds.

Hanoi-based Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) Theatre gave 20 shows of three new plays for children.

Every two weeks, at the main stages in the capital, theatres have offered noted plays like Vân Dại (Crazy Van) by the Vietnam Traditional Opera Theatre, Kieu by the Vietnam Puppetry Theatre, and Chuyện Tình Khau Vai (Khau Vai Love Story) by the Vietnam Reformed Opera Theatre

New plays including Bão Ngầm (Sudden Storm) by Vietnam Reformed Opera Theatre, Bộ Cảnh Phục (A Policeman’s Uniform) by the Youth Theatre and Nữ Cảnh Sát Săn Bắt Cướp (Policewoman Chasing Robbers) by the Vietnam Drama Theatre had also been staged as part of the theatre festival about the police sector, which took place in mid July.

The culture ministry has sponsored 12 theatres under its management to perform at main stages in the city like the Opera House, Au Co Theatre and Traditional Opera Theatre since the end of May. 

On August 22, the Vietnam Opera & Ballet Theatre will perform Swan Lake at the Opera House as the last show in the series subsidised by the ministry

No difficulties, no discoveries

Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet, director of the Opera House said since May, each month, the opera has hosted only five shows while it normally hosts 28 shows.

“Despite this, artists have spared no efforts to lure an audience even in the pandemic,” Nguyet said.

At the beginning of the outbreak, artists like Tung Duong, Quoc Trung and Trang Trinh released new music projects

Pop singer Tung Duong used his music video Tùng Dương & Friends to gather international artists like Julia Sarr, Stéphane Galland, Alex Tran, Romain Labaye and Nguyen Le, who joined the video from their studios at home.

He has been doing MV Quê Nhà (Homeland) with Nguyen Le and Ha Tran, which is set to finish by the end of this year.

Composer Quoc Trung chose to perform based on his annual Moonson Festival. The project was named “Monsoon Music Festival From Home” and attracted various famed artists like Thanh Lam, Thanh Phuong, Ha An, Hung Cuong, Hoang Thai Vu and the band Ngot (Sweet).

Pianist Trang Trinh made 24 Hours Music Marathon in early April gathering more than 120 international artists from the UK, France, the US, Switzerland, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore. Each star performed at 8pm at their home. The programme ran non-stop for 24 hours.

Music Home show has also run monthly gathering singers like Quang Dung, Tung Duong, Ha Nhi, Erik and Hoa Minzy.

Erik attracted 71 million of views for his music video Em Không Sai, Chúng Ta Sai (You’re Not Wrong, We’re Wrong), while Hoa Minzy got 20 million for Không Thể Cùng Nhau Suốt Kiếp (Can’t Go Together Through Our Life), and Bich Phuong had 30 million with Em Bỏ Thuốc Lá Chưa? (Have You Quit Smoking?).

Scenes from Erik’s Em Không Sai, Chúng Ta Sai (You’re Not Wrong, We’re Wrong). — Photo from video

Pop singer Chi Pu with her video Cung Đàn Vỡ Đôi (Broken Guitar) released in early June gathered 16 million views while Son Tung M-TP with Có Chắc Yêu Là Đây (Is That Love) gathered 38 million views just four days after release on July 5.

Singer Hoang Bach returned to music with his project BACH20 starting with Chuyện Chàng Cô Đơn (A Lonely Man) in mid-June.

Singer Ha Le completed his album Ở Trọ (Rented House) of his project Trinh Temporary, and diva Thanh Lam launched her album Nơi Gặp Gỡ Tình Yêu (Where Love Meets) during this period.

Various music projects have been released like Series Bandlands Channel by producer Duong Cam on July 2 and a show on Phu Quang music on July 9.

Community projects like the music video Hòa Nhịp Con Tim (Hearts Beat Together), Bao La Những Trái Tim Hồng (Kind Hearts) and Việt Nam Ơi Đánh Bay Covid (Oh, Vietnam, Do Fight Against Covid) have been released in the past three months.

In the classical music field, the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony, Ballet and Opera Theatre and the Vietnam Music Academy all returned with the concert We Return on June 19.

“We were the last to revive,” said composer Huy Tuan. “We were very sad during social distancing.”

“But we have used up free time to practise to recharge and to be ready for new projects,” he said. VNS

Cuc Duong

Drama about post-war time to be staged

The play Điều Còn Lại (Thing That Remains) about the life of the people and soldiers after the war will be staged on May 29 at the Hanoi Opera House as an effort to bring cultural activities back to life.

Circus federation offers special programme dedicated to navy soldiers

A special circus show will be dedicated to navy soldiers at Hanoi’s Central Circus Theatre on July 25 and 26.