Closer traditional stage cooperation helps foster China-Vietnam friendship

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/12/16 19:03:39

Actors from the Shanghai Theatre Academy perform the classic Peking Opera San Cha Kou at the Shanghai Grand Theatre on October 16, 2017. Photo: VCG

When two heavily made-up Chinese men were fighting with each other fiercely yet quietly in the darkness, using machetes and bare hands on stage in Vietnam on Thursday night, the audience either clapped their hands enthusiastically or burst into laughter.

The two men were performing San Cha Kou, or The Crossway, a classical work of Peking Opera, which was recognized as a world intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2010.

Attracting the younger generation

The performance of San Cha Kou and five other traditional plays by Chinese and Vietnamese artists was part of the China-Vietnam Traditional Stage Exchange Week, held by the Chinese Embassy in Vietnam and the Vietnam Stage Artists Association December 10-14 in Hanoi.

The activities of the exchange week included an exhibition about the life and work of Mei Lanfang, one of the most outstanding figures of Peking Opera and a pioneer who helped introduce the art to the world, an international seminar on inheriting and developing the traditional stage arts of China and Vietnam and performances of traditional plays by artists from the two countries.

"It has helped strengthen exchanges of experience and draw lessons between the literary and art circles of Vietnam and China," especially in inheriting and developing traditional stage arts today, contributing to closer friendship and cooperation between the two countries, Le Tien Tho, president of the Vietnam Stage Artists Association and former vice minister of culture, sports and tourism, told the Xinhua News Agency on Thursday.

At the seminar, Chinese and Vietnamese scholars and artists put forward measures to preserve and bring into play traditional stage arts, which are currently getting a cold shoulder from today's young people.

"If we do not introduce young people to the beauty of traditional stage arts, they will further shun them," Tho said.

According to him, in addition to annual exchange activities between stage artist associations in Vietnam and China, the culture ministries should build up relevant schemes for artists from the two countries to beef up exchange and cooperation.

"Exchange programs will create favorable conditions for developing traditional stage arts in the information age, positively affecting younger generations," Tho, who holds the people's artist title in Vietnam, explained.

Peng Shituan, cultural counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Vietnam, echoed Tho's remarks, saying that China and Vietnam should bolster cooperation and exchange, and seek new directions for traditional stage arts to attract younger generations.

"Youths are the key in inheriting and developing traditional stage arts," Peng said.

Better in real life

Like the Vietnamese and Chinese officials, artists expressed their desire to have more opportunities to improve their performance skills and promote the beauty and uniqueness of the art form, contributing to greater friendship and solidarity between the two nations as well as with the rest of the world.

"We would like to have more opportunities such as joint performances like this, seminars and festivals to perform Vietnam's traditional stage arts, including Cai Luong (modern folk opera), Tuong (classic drama) and Cheo (traditional operetta) in China and other countries and regions in the world," Thuy Dung from the Vietnam National Cai Luong Theater told Xinhua after playing the female lead Diem Bich in the famous Vietnamese Cai Luong play Cung phi Diem Bich (Concubine Diem Bich) on Thursday night.

Dung said she wants to perform in China, and learn more from Peking Opera artists.

"Peking Opera and Vietnam's traditional stage arts have some things in common, including makeup, props and singing," she said, adding that she was impressed how Peking Opera artists perform very confidently and subtly with only a few simple props such as tables and chairs.

After the performances, many young Chinese and Vietnamese rushed to the stage to congratulate the artists and talk with them.

"I was most impressed by San Cha Kou because the two artists exhibited spectacular fights with swordplay and acrobatics," Nguyen Dinh Khai, a freshman at the Electric Power University in Hanoi, told Xinhua.

Nguyen Thi Kim Phuong, a Vietnamese student at the Thuong Mai University in the capital city, also expressed her love for San Cha Kou, stating that the swordplay and hand combat in the Chinese play were not only swift and flexible but also humorous. 

Of all the Vietnamese plays, both Vietnamese students liked Cung phi Diem Bich the best, stating that the performer (Thuy Dung) acted very well and sang very sweetly.

"I want to go to Beijing to see Peking Opera plays with my own eyes. Now I can only watch them on YouTube," Phuong said, noting that she has studied Chinese for two years, so she has a basic understanding of what the characters on stage are saying.

Pan Yilin, a Chinese student studying Vietnamese at Hanoi University, said studying a foreign language is a great gateway to better understanding other people in all fields, including traditional stage arts.

"I hope that China and Vietnam will have more live stage performances like this. Watching the artist perform right in front of you is much better than watching online," Pan told Xinhua. 
Newspaper headline: Cultural bridge


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