National treasure: Hat boi or tuong (classical drama), a genre of traditional theatre in the central and southern regions (Source: VNA)
Binh Dinh (VNA) - A project to preserve hat boi (classical drama) and bai choi (a traditional game combining folklore singing and lottery picks) has been approved by the People’s Committee of Binh Dinh central province with a view to attracting tourists and preserving traditional theatre by 2020.

The project will offer young artists, mostly from local art troupes, free training in voice and performance skills at leading art schools and theatres, according to the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The department will work with cultural researchers and historians to collect and restore old hat boi plays and games of bai choi. Experts will receive support from local agencies to prepare documents to submit to UNESCO requesting recognition of bai choi as an intangible cultural heritage.

Art programmes for students at schools and youth at cultural centres will also be featured.

Cultural officials will work with tourist agencies in the region and HCM City to set up performance schedules aimed tourists.

Through the project, local authorities hope to open 55 new hat boi and bai choi clubs.

Hat boi or tuong is often performed at ceremonies and festivals at temples and pagodas in central and southern provinces, such as Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Vinh Long, Can Tho, Tien Giang and Soc Trang.

Artists in the 13th century entertained royalty with the art form, which was later adapted and introduced to residents around the region.

Stories in hat boi feature historical events and social problems. The actors, skilled in both singing and dance, do their own make-up and design their costumes.

Bai choi, which means bai (deck of cards) and choi (bamboo hut), has various performance styles: folk songs, poem-singing, acting, storytelling and music on traditional instruments.

The art is popular with local residents in Binh Dinh.-VNA