The Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV) is set to produce a TV series featuring traditional opera by late playwright Tran Huu Trang, one of the region's foremost artists in cai luong (reformed theatre).

The series, Tran Huu Trang – Mot Doi Nghiep To (Tran Huu Trang – A Life in Cai Luong Theatre), features the life and work of Trang, and his most famous plays.

HTV has worked with its partner, Tran Huu Trang Theatre, to hire staff and invest in the project.

The show's first part highlights two plays, Doi Co Luu (Miss Luu's Life) and To Anh Nguyet (Miss To Anh Nguyet), which were staged in the 1930s by cai luong pioneers Nam Chau, Phung Ha and Ut Tra On, all of whom were awarded the title of People's Artist from the Government.

Both plays highlight Vietnamese women, their challenges and sufferings under the feudal society. They are recognised as canonical cai luong and have been staged many times by different generations at home and abroad.

"Playwright Trang was the first to feature women as leading characters in cai luong. Though he has passed away, his art is still alive among Vietnamese audiences, particularly southerners," said Tran Ngoc Giau, director of the Tran Huu Trang Theatre, the leading cai luong theatre named after the artist.

Trang was born in 1906 in a farmer family in Cho Gao district, My Tho province (now Tien Giang province).

He began his professional career in 1928, working for leading troupes owned by Tran Dac, Nam Phi and Nam Chau, great veterans of cai luong.

His first play, Lua Do Long Son (Mind in Fire), featured social problems.

In the 1930s, Trang was at the peak of his artistry and fame, with serious plays such Lan Va Diep (Love Story), Tim Hanh Phuc (Seeking Happiness) and Khi Nguoi Dien Biet Yeu (When the Madman Loves).

He created 30 works and all feature Vietnamese characteristics. His last play was about Vietnamese hero Nguyen Van Troi.

He died in 1966. For his contributions, he was awarded the Ho Chi Minh Prize by Government in 1996.

"We wanted to preserve cai luong and hope young people learn more about the traditional art," said Giau, a member of the production board. The first show is expected to air early next year.-VNA