During August, the Hanoi Opera House has hosted eleven popular plays that have won prizes at national and international contests, by artists from five leading troupes in the capital city.
The plays are part of last year’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism directive to bring high quality art performances back to the prestigious venue.
All three performances of two theatre pieces Kieu (The Tale of Kieu) and Lao Ha Tien (Molière’s The Miser) by actors of the Vietnam National Drama Theatre were hailed as a success, with tickets sold out days before the curtains opened.
Many tickets were brought by the FLC Ha Long Company, and offered to loyal clients as a way of thanks. A large number were snapped up by theatre-lovers directly from the Opera House box office.
Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet, the Opera house’s director, said “This year has been better than last year. More people came directly to the Hanoi Opera House to buy tickets. Many were excited by the performances from the Vietnam National Drama Theatre, Youth Theatre of Vietnam, and Hanoi Drama Theatre. On an average evening, we could sell up to VND30 million (US$1,300) worth of tickets.”
The renewed public interest in these shows can be explained by efforts to put on more high-quality performances and a number of PR campaigns by the theatre and actors.
Press conference was held at the Hanoi Opera House to present the plays to the media with well-known theatre actors participated. Social media platforms, including Facebook, was put to good use in promoting the stories and characters to draw the attention of fans.
Theatres are starting to see the benefit in using social networks to promote new plays and allow exchanges between artists and audiences.
“I was very interested in watching the play Lao Ha Tien (The Miser). As a literature teacher, I was curious to see how this masterpiece of French literature was adapted into a Vietnamese theatre piece. I paid VND400,000 (US$17) for a seat at the Hanoi Opera House, which was expensive for me, but I didn’t regret it as the play was very interesting,” said Nguyen Hong Nga.
While a high number of young Vietnamese people living in big cities watch foreign films at the cinema, not many are interested in visits to the theatre. One reason for the lack of interest is the high price of a theatre ticket, compared to a similar duration of entertainment at the cinema. Others complain that they’re disappointed by the lack of variety and subpar quality of the theatre pieces.
Experts admit that theatres face numerous difficulties, including competition with other forms of entertainment.
“With this programme in August, we hope to inspire more public enthusiasm and interest for theatre. I believe that theatres across the country have to unite and work together to develop the art form, ultimately strengthening the theatre,” said Xuan Bac, deputy director of the Vietnam National Drama Theatre.
Dao Van Hoang, deputy head of the Performing Arts Agency under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the programme will continue, offering chances for theatres all over the country.
“Beside the new best-selling plays, we will restage classics by Vietnamese and foreign playwrights like Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare, Rung Truc (Forest of Bamboo) by Doan Hoang Giang and other famous plays by Luu Quang Vu,” he said.
This month, with the auditorium packed to the rafters and resounding applause filling the halls, experts hope that the curtains are not coming down on Vietnam’s theatre just yet.VNA