Vietnam Cai Luong Theatre will perform Cung Phi Diem Bich (Concubine Diemm Bich) at the China-ASEAN Theatre Festival.
(Photo: tuoitre.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Vietnam Cai luong Theatre will attend the China-ASEAN Theatre Festival, performing a cai luong show for the first time, in Nanning, Guangxi, from September 17 to 23.

Vietnamese artists will perform the Cung Phi Diem Bich (Concubine Diem Bich) cai luong (reformed opera) at the festival.

"The organisers are paying attention to the cai luong performance because it is the first time the Vietnamese cai luong is being presented at the festival," director Hoang Quynh Mai said.

"At the previous festivals, besides modern drama and puppetry, Vietnamese cheo (popular opera) was presented," she added.

Cai luong is a form of modern folk opera, particularly famous in southern Vietnam. It is the convergence of southern Vietnamese folk songs, classical music, tuong (traditional opera) and modern spoken drama.

Director Mai has shortened the two-hour performance to 70 minutes and restructured it to make the performance easier for international spectators at the festival to understand.

This act made its debut at a national competition for young theatre directors in 2007. Director Mai was awarded the first prize at the National Competition of Theatrical Talented Young Directors in 2007 for this performance.

A new team has been cast for the festival. Young actress Doan Hoa Mai will enact the role of concubine Diem Bich.

"It is a little bit of pressure for me because Diem Bich’s role was performed successfully by veteran Thanh Thanh Hien earlier," Hoa Mai said. "I have dreamed about enacting the role of Diem Bich. I will put my heart and soul into the role."

Concubine Diem Bich tells the story of an officer in the court of a 13th century king, Tran Thanh Tong, who gave up his position, office and title to become a monk, named Huyen Quang, and lead a religious life.

Sceptical of his former officer’s religious devotion, the king sent Diem Bich, an imperial concubine and talented artist disguised as a country girl, to the Hoa Yen Pagoda on Yen Tu Mountain to tempt the monk.

Another theatre work, Da Co Hoai Lang (Night Drumbeats for an Absent Husband) will also be staged at the festival by the Vietnam Cai luong Theatre. The work was written in 1919 by well-known composer Cao Van Lau, a native of the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu.

The song recreates the love, anguish and pride of a young woman watching her husband fight for the country.

"I think the festival will be a good opportunity for young actors to share and exchange acting experiences," the director said. "We are eager to go to the festival where many artists from ASEAN countries will gather."

Vietnamese artists from the Vietnam Tuong Theatre will also present an extract from Ngheu, So, Oc, Hen old tuong (classical opera) at the festival.

In addition, the festival will see Vietnamese traditional water puppetry by the Vietnam Puppetry Theatre and the drama Sand Castle by the Vietnam National Drama Theatre.

The festival is considered to be the start of the long-term cooperation and cultural exchange between China and the ASEAN nations.-VNA