For hundreds of years, Duong Coc Village in Dong Quang Commune, Quoc Oai District, Ha Tay Province has engaged in agricultural production. The villagers are assiduous farmers who work all day long in the fields. However, few people know that they have a great passion for the Tuong (Classical drama) art.
Having love for Tuong
After a long and tiring day in the fields, and when night falls, Duong Coc villagers become real artists who perform Tuong plays. Farming and performing seem unrelated activities but have become a routine in Duong Coc Village.
Nguyen Van Ly, Chairman of the Tuong Club in Duong Coc Village said: “People in the village became aware of Tuong by chance. In 1967 when the war was fiercely gripping the country,
At that time, every evening, local farmers flocked to watch the plays performed by the Central Tuong Troupe. On New Year Holidays and festive occasions, it wasn’t necessary to travel to other localities to enjoy Tuong as it was being performed in their own village. nbsp;Their joys doubled when they established their own Tuong Troupe and made tours to perform in other areas in service of the mass artistic movement.
Whenever on the stage, the members of the Tuong Troupe in Duong Coc Village put aside all their concerns of daily life to live the character’s life.
At most national amateur theatrical festivals, the troupe has left a great impression on Tuong lovers. So far, the troupe has staged and performed more than 40 plays, including classical and modern plays, such as “Trung Nu Vuong”, “Tran Quoc Toan Leads an Army to March to the Battlefield”, “Tran Binh Trong”, “Sunshine Reflects on Pang Poi Stream”, “Ngheu So Oc Hen”, “Love between Fish and Water” and “A Militiawoman in an Economic Zone”. They have won hundreds of certificates of merit and gold medals. In late 2006, the troupe was awarded first place for the performance “Sunshine Reflects on Pang Poi Stream” at the national Tuong amateur theatrical festival held in Binh Dinh Province.
The Tuong Troupe in Duong Coc Village often performs
in the communal yard, the traditional stage of the village.
Headed by Nguyen Van Ly, the Tuong Troupe in Duong Coc Village, which consists of 26 actors, actresses and instrumentalists including the couple Nguyen Bich Hao and Nguyen Huy Thuong as the main actors, organizes meetings and performances regularly. The families of Nguyen Ngoc Binh and Nguyen Huu Thiet in Duong Coc Village have three generations who have been attached to the Tuong Troupe.
The old actors, actresses and instrumentalists of the Tuong Club in Duong Coc Village are now approaching 70 years old. nbsp;They are worried that the young generation will not embrace Tuong art as their forefathers did. To help young people understand the value of this unique traditional art, the members of the Club regularly schedule activities that try to capture the interest of the younger generation with the hope of keeping the Tuong Troupe thriving.
Nguyen Huy Thuong, Deputy Head of the Club said: “To maintain the troupe’s activities, the members of the club voluntarily contribute money to the limited budget established by the villagers to buy accessories and technical equipment. The Cultural and Information Department of Ha Tay Province as well as the Central Tuong Theatre always provide the troupe with preferential financial and artistic assistance to warm up the farmer artists’ passion for Tuong”.
Following the tradition of their forefathers, a number of “young buds” in Tuong singing have sprouted in Duong Coc Village. Nguyen Kim Hue, Nguyen Van Huong and other young talents have caught the attention of audiences at the mass artistic festivals in Ha Tay Province as well as other areas. They have brought a new vitality to the Tuong art of Duong Coc Village.
Story by Nguyen Tuan Long - Photos by Hoang Ha