Tuoi Tre Theatre and Vietnam Drama Theatre have been merged to form one Vietnam National Theatre, under the direction of People's Artist Le Hung.
Will domestic stage be revived?
Certain smaller theatre companies have expressed concern over the State's role in subsidising the arts, and the effect it will have on their competitiveness. Director of the Vietnam National Theatre said the merger would not impact small theatres.
The theatre will be established in accordance with a decision approved by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Hoang Tuan Anh, on March 27. The Vietnam National Theatre will include three subsidiaries with separate tasks. Vietnam Drama Theatre will be responsible for classic dramas, Tuoi Tre Theatre is to produce comedies and modern dramas and Children Drama Theatre will arrange plays for children.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism plans to subsidise the Vietnam National Theatre. They will also be involved in play selection with a focus on classical dramas. A new 7,000-square metre theatre is to be built in My Dinh, Tu Liem District, on the outskirts of Hanoi. The merger of these two theatres is hoped to be a major contribution to the performing arts in Vietnam.
In the north, theatrical productions have faced a number of difficulties over the last decade. Tuoi Tre Theatre, Hanoi Drama Theatre, Vietnam Drama Theatre struggled to exist.
While some see the new development as a bright spot for the arts, smaller theatres have voiced concerns about how it will impact local houses, such as the Hanoi Drama Theatre.
People’s artist Le Hung, Director of Vietnam National Theatre, spoke with DTiNews about the merger.
Do you think that the establishment of the Vietnam National Theatre, which is a merger between two theatres, Tuoi Tre Drama and Vietnam Drama, will bring positive changes to the performing arts in the north?
It is not unusual for other countries, particularly in Asia, to have a national theatre. China, Japan and Singapore all have national theatres. Why should Vietnam be any different?
The Vietnam National Theatre will be under the regulation of the Government, and will receive their support and guidance. The aim is to bring the quality of stage productions in this country up to international standards. For this reason we plan to join the Asian Stage Alliance.
We will also establish acting courses in other theatres, with a focus on classic drama.
Keeping in mind the troubles faced by Vietnamese theatres over the past decade, do you really think that the establishment of a national theatre could improve the situation in terms of public interest and ticket sales? In short, do you think that this could result in a revival of theatre in the north?
The investment we make will spur regular performances. This will lead to more money to invest in the performing arts. This is the type of environment that would allow theatres in the north to prosper. Beyond that, it is quite difficult to make predictions.
I will give you an example, before, the Ministry only invested two dramas per year in each theatre. Now we may be invested 10 dramas. When we have more shows, more kinds of drama, more audiences will be attracted to theatre.
In the past, the Government has subsidised studios and theatres at great cost, but many were not well-received by audiences. If the Government supports 10 productions every year for the Vietnam National Theatre, do you think that there is a possibility of making the same old mistake?
Audiences are still not well-acquainted with classic dramas. So our aim is to familiarise them with this rich art form. Music is a good example. It is true that the symphony has a very selective audience. But does that mean that the Government should not support this because the tickets were not sold out?
The difficulties faced in theatre in this country are similar. There is a real need to invest in these valuable art forms, and to promote them properly.
I believe that, with the cooperation between the Government and artists, we can have achievements that we can be proud of.
Our drama group was invited to perform in a number of different countries in reproductions of classics, such as Macbeth, and the Doll House. I believe that we will continue to develop our international standing in the performing arts. Also, domestic audiences will become more familiar with this art form.
Some drama troupes have expressed concern over Government subsidies in the arts, including Hanoi Drama Theatre. Do you think that State funds allocated only one theatre, as well as their role in selection, could have any negative influence over the creative freedom of performing arts in the future?
Our success would only translate into success for the arts in Vietnam, including smaller theatres. If we thrive, they will benefit. Our acting classes is a great example of this.
Every theatre will obviously have its own target audience. But it is up to them to attract their audiences with the quality of their work.
But if the national theatre is able to create better quality productions because they have greater financial means, don't you think that smaller theatres will have a hard time attracting audiences?
That is their job.
People’s artist Le Hung
Vietnam Drama Theater used to be famous for classic drama, like Hon Truong Ba, Da Hang Thit
Le Hung, prospective Director of Vietnam National Theatre
One scene in Loi Nguyen