“Theatre of the Absurd” comes to Vietnam

(VOVWORLD) - LucTeam, established in late 2017, and led by director Tran Luc, made a bold move through early this year in staging “The Bald Soprano”, a Theatre of the Absurd play, for the very first time in front of a Vietnamese audience at L’Espace in Hanoi. 

You’re listening to a scene from “The Bald Soprano” by dramatist Eugène Ionesco being performed at the French Cultural Center L’Espace in downtown Hanoi. Renowned Vietnamese stage director Tran Luc and his team (the LucTeam troupe) greeted the New Year 2019 with this play following two widely acclaimed plays in 2017, “Distraught” by Vietnamese dramatist Long Chuong and “The Jealousy of Cinderella” by French dramatist Molière.

“The Bald Soprano” is a drama in eleven scenes which Ionesco called an “antiplay”. It was first produced in 1950 and was published in 1954. The 90-minute play, a prime example of the Theatre of the Absurd, consists of a series of meaningless conversations between two couples that eventually deteriorates into babbling.

“Theatre of the Absurd” comes to Vietnam - ảnh 1Vietnamese stage director Tran Luc (Photo: baoquocte.vn)

By performing a famous play from a famous genre of theatre arts - tragicomedy - Tran Luc and his team have brought to Hanoi’s theatrical scene a fresh of fresh air that should be enthusiastically welcomed.

“I’m confident to stage dramas of Theatre of the Absurd in Vietnam as many of the Vietnamese people have acquired a much broader knowledge about the world and its different cultures. We’ve entered the 4th Industrial Revolution already. If somebody complains that stage seems to be not attractive any more, it’s simply because their works are not good enough to attract the audience. We’ve received quite positive feedback for our two dramas “Distraught” and “The Jealousy of Cinderella” in 2017 and this shows us that stage performance hasn’t lost its attractiveness, urging artists like us to take the courage to try new things.", said Director Tran Luc.
Writer Ngo Thao, former General Secretary of the Stage Association, said this effort of Tran Luc and his team shows a very encouraging sign for Vietnam’s stage arts: “Anyone who loves stage performance would do anything to make it live forever in the audience’s hearts. By staging and breathing new life into such dramas of Theatre of the Absurd and introducing them to Vietnamese audience, Tran Luc has shown us a brand new artist who dares to challenge himself in a totally new field of stage performance in Vietnam.”
Tran Luc said dramas of Theatre of the Absurd are no different from classic dramas as they both reflect the human’s core values in daily life as well as people’s relations. “Theatre of the Absurd dramas may sound fancy but they simply feature all the absurd in this life, which is the same everywhere. As we read the original script of The Bald Soprano, we immediately liked it. Classic dramas feature conflicts in their story line but in theatre of the absurd dramas, conflicts arise from absurd itself.”

“Theatre of the Absurd” comes to Vietnam - ảnh 2Tran Luc and his team (Photo: VNreview) 

In this version of “The Bald Soprano”, Tran Luc and his team had subtly adapted the play to the Vietnamese context. With details and western characters’ names kept unchanged, LucTeam brought to the stage some very “Vietnamese” details such as the sound of monochord, the plastic stools, the altar-shaped wooden cabinets created by French stage designer George Burchett. Luc also staged the play in a symbolic set design, which is closely associated with Vietnam’s traditional theatrical genres like “Tuong” or “Cheo”. In other words, LucTeam has told a western story in an eastern language. Scriptwriter Do Chi Hung worked with Tran Luc in adapting “The Bald Soprano” to the Vietnamese context:

“Only confidence and bravery can create change and lead to reforms.Tran Luc was the first to use the symbolic set design in staging an absurd play in Vietnam. Absurd theatre works had been translated into Vietnamese a long time ago and yet no one performed.” Hung said.

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