Vietnam’s traditional Cai Luong artists strive to keep their stage alive
(VOVWORLD) - Vietnam’s traditional Cai Luong or reformed opera is facing numerous difficulties, including dwindling audiences in the digital era. Cai Luong artists in the Mekong Delta are doing all they can to keep their stage alive and bring Cai Luong closer to the public.
|Young artist Tran Van during his performance at Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Talented Performers Contest 2020. Photo: VOV
"I’ve been performing Cai luong for a long time. I always try to participate in all competitions where I practice and improve my skills. I can perform all characters of a Cai Luong play, which is very important to a Cai Luong artist,” said artist Nguyen Van Vung, aka Hoang Vung, of Cao Van Lau Theatre in the southern province of Bac Lieu.
“I love Cai Luong, which is a traditional art form of Vietnam passed down through many generations. I’m doing my best to improve my singing and performing skills so that I can catch up with my older peers and become a more skillful artist,” said young artist Tran Ba Van, aka Tran Van, of Can Tho City’s Stage Artists Association.
Cai Luong used to be an indispensable part of the spiritual life of people in southern Vietnam, especially in the Mekong Delta region. Although the audience keeps dwindling, Cai Luong artists continue their efforts to keep their stage alive. Cai Luong theatre has seen many ups and downs over the past 16 years, according to artist Kim Phung, deputy head of Kien Giang People’s Cai Luong art troupe, who won the Gold Medal in 2020 Tran Huu Trang Reformed Opera Stage’s Talent Competition.
|Artist Kim Phung in her performance at Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Talented Performers Contest 2020. Photo: VOV
"An artist is required to be able to play diverse roles in any performances. Each role gives us unique lessons to improve our skills as a Cai Luong artist. I will continue to follow the path that I’ve chosen, which is performing for the rest of my life and will hand down my experiences to the younger generations to better preserve and promote the art form," said Kim Phung.
The Mekong Delta region is seeking initiatives to bring Cai Luong closer to the audience, especially the younger ones. Many classes teaching nostalgic tunes and reformed opera skills are being held by Dong Thap Art Troupe and Ben Tre Reformed Opera Art Troupe while Tay Do University and Can Tho University are organizing many programs on amateur singing and reformed opera for students.
|The Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Talented Performers Contest 2020 takes place in Can Tho City in October, 2020. Photo: VOV
In recent years, the reformed opera stage has been featured in many television and reality shows, encouraging both old and young Cai Luong artists to put on their best performances. This is part of efforts of the Vietnam Stage Artists Association to revitalize and promote Vietnam’s traditional stage art forms, according to People’s Artist, Director Giang Manh Ha, Deputy Chairman of the Association.
"Artists winning Gold and Silver Medals at any Cai Luong competitions will be considered to receive the title “Emeritus and People’s Artists.” This will encourage them to pursue their careers and further contribute to preserving and promoting Vietnam’s traditional art forms, including reformed opera. Many old artists at the age of 60 or 70 can still take part in competitions they like," said Ha.
These efforts have paid off and Vietnam’s reformed opera remains an indispensable part of people’s spiritual life in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region.