Sunday, 05/03/2023 10:37

'Cải lương' star works on new projects targeted at young people

LEGENDARY CẢI LƯƠNG: Meritorious Artist and cải lương star Tú Sương (right) plays a lead role in 'Truyền Thuyết Chàng Sa Mộc' (The Legend of Hero Sa Mộc), an experimental play featuring the cultures and costumes of northern ethnic minority groups. Photo courtesy of Đại Việt Cải Lương Theatre. 

By Thu Anh

Theatre actress Tú Sương is working on new projects to promote cải lương (reformed opera), a typical theatrical genre in the South, among young people in HCM City. 

Her projects offer cải lương shows on Vietnamese history and culture staged by the State-owned Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre and private Đại Việt Cải Lương Stage -- both leading traditional art troupes in the South.  

Sương, who has the title "Meritorious Artist" conferred by the state for her remarkable contributions to the theatrical arts, plays a lead role in Truyền Thuyết Chàng Sa Mộc (The Legend of Hero Sa Mộc), an experimental play featuring the cultures and costumes of northern ethnic minority groups. 

The play is a production of director and Meritorious Artist Hoa Hạ of Đại Việt Cải Lương Stage. 

It highlights bravery and patriotism based on folk stories by the Thái Đen ethnics in the North.  

The 150-minute work tells stories about a young hero named Sa Mộc, who fights to protect his villagers against invaders. 

In the work, Sương appears with younger colleague Võ Minh Lâm, who plays Sa Mộc, and young talents such as Cao Thuý Vi, Phương Cẩm Ngọc and Chí Cường. 

“I’m always trying my best to offer a new style of cải lương - a traditional form of southern theatre that began about 100 years ago - combined with modern concepts in singing, dancing and performance style,” said Sương, who has 20 years in the industry. “My performance targets young audiences. I hope to encourage them to love and learn more about Vietnamese theatre.” 

STAR: Cải lương actress Tú Sương has a strong, sweet voice and great performing skills. Photo courtesy of Đại Việt Cải Lương Theatre. 

Another project that Sương is working on is Nàng Xê Đa, a play staged by the Trần Hữu Trang Theatre. 

The production is a tragedy about love, jealousy and betrayal.  

In 1984, Nàng Xê Đa was first staged in HCM City and had 1,800 performances in the city and southern provinces. 

In the new version in 2023, Sương and her colleagues introduce cải lương in both old and new styles. 

REACHING THE YOUTH: Meritorious Artist Tú Sương of HCM City (centre, front row) and her young colleagues are working on new art projects to expand cải lương (reformed opera), among young people. Photo courtesy of Đại Việt Cải Lương Theatre. 

Sương began her career when she was a young girl. She studied her first lessons on cải lương and tuồng (classical drama), a traditional genre of Vietnamese theatre that began in the 12th century, from her parents, who were late actor Trường Sơn and late actress Thanh Loan. 

She worked for the Đồng Ấu Bạch Long Tuồng Troupe when she was at school.

With her strong, sweet voice and rapid improvement in performing skills, she soon became a bright star in cải lương.

She has earned top prizes for Best Theatre Actress presented by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the HCM City Theatre’s Association, and leading organisations and newspapers. 

She has performed in several hundred cải lương plays, music videos and TV shows. 

“Sương’s performance is very unique,” said theatre director Hoa Hạ. “She is dynamic and has devoted all her love and energy to the stage.”

Sương has cooperated with Đại Việt Cải Lương Stage to offer shows at only VNĐ80,000 to 120,000 (US$3-4) aimed at students and young workers. 

“We will make tours to Hà Nội and Đà Nẵng to satisfy audiences who want to enjoy cải lương with something new," said Sương in a recent interview with the city-based Người Lao Động (Labourers) newspaper.

 “I think cải lương will attract younger audiences if it provides a new and modern style.” —VNS

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