Tuesday , July 16 2024

Famous cải lương play from 1970s restaged


MODERN CẢI LƯƠNG: Young actors of HCM City’s Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre will restage a series of cải lương plays on Vietnamese history and culture to usher in New Year. — Photo courtesy of the theatre

Thu Anh 

HCM CITY — Young talents from the HCM City-based Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre, one of the region’s leading traditional art troupes, will perform a famous play from the 1970s. 

Actress Kim Luận plays Quỳnh Nga, a beautiful and hardworking woman, in Bên Cầu Dệt Lụa (Weaving on the Bridge), a story about love and life.  

The play depicts the life of Nga, who loves a poor student and works hard to support him to get rich. 

Southern people, and their traditional culture and lifestyle, are also featured. 

The original version of Bên Cầu Dệt Lụa was written by late scriptwriter Thế Châu of Bình Dương Province.  

The play helped its creator, Châu, and talented performers from Thanh Minh-Thanh Nga Troupe, one of the region’s leading cải lương theatres, to become a phenomenon in the industry after its release in HCM City in 1976. 

The late theatre star Thanh Nga was chosen to play Quỳnh Nga. She offered a very unique style of cải lương, a traditional genre of southern theatre which began in the early 1920s in the Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta region. 

In the new version of Bên Cầu Dệt Lụa, Trần Hữu Trang Cải Lương Theatre invited People’s Artist and theatre director Trần Ngọc Giàu to guarantee its success. 

RAISING STAR: Young actress Kim Luận (in purple) will star in Bên Cầu Dệt Lụa (Weaving on the Bridge), a cải lương play that features southern culture and lifestyle. — Photo courtesy of the theatre 

“We will introduce cải lương in both old and new styles to attract young audiences,” said the play’s director Giàu, who has worked in theatre for 40 years. 

Giàu hired young talents Luận, Võ Thành Phê and Nguyễn Văn Khởi because he wanted to “refresh the play,” he said.

“I will not follow in the footsteps of my idol, the late actress Thanh Nga. I will offer cải lương with modern techniques of performance,” said actress Kim Luận, in an interview with local media before the premiere.

Bên Cầu Dệt Lụa will be staged on weekends starting on January 13 at 136Đ Trần Hưng Đạo Street, District 1. 


Late theatre actress Thanh Nga (real name Juliette Nguyễn Thị Nga) was born in 1942 in a traditional family in Tây Ninh Province. 

Nga began her career when she was a child. She learned cải lương from her parents, Năm Nghĩa and Nguyễn Thị Thơ, owners of Thanh Minh-Thanh Nga Troupe. 

She became a bright star after playing a leading role in Người Vợ Không Bao Giờ Cưới (Unmarried Wife) staged by Thanh Minh-Thanh Nga Troupe. 

For her performance in the play, she won the Golden Medal for Best Theatre Actress at the Thanh Tâm Awards (now Trần Hữu Trang Awards presented by the HCM City Theatre Association) in 1958.  

LEGENDARY ARTIST: Cải lương guru Thanh Nga devoted her life to expanding cải lương, a 100-year-old traditional genre of southern theatre. — Photo from the artist’s family 

In 1971, she became involved in films. She performed in prize-winning films directed by talented artists such as Lê Dân and Lê Hoàng Hoa.

She received the Best Film Actress award at the Asian Film Festival in 1973 in Taiwan.

Nga performed in more than 50 plays, including famous historical works Thái Hậu Dương Vân Nga (Queen Mother Dương Vân Nga) and Tiếng Trống Mê Linh (The Sounds of Mê Linh Drum). Her voice and dance skills left a strong impression on audiences. 

She was assassinated in 1978 after a show in HCM City. 

In 1984, Nga was posthumously honoured as a Meritorious Artist by the Government. A street in District 6 was named after her. — VNS

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