Belgian director Xavier Lukowsk: Vietnamese actors are full of energy at work

Thursday, 2017-05-25 05:11:23
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Director Xavier Lukowsk gives instructions to actresses of Youth Theatre (Photo:
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NDO - The classic children’s play ‘The Blue Bird’ by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck was featured on Vietnam’s Youth Theatre stage on May 11 and 12 under the direction of Belgian director Xavier Lukowsk and his Vietnamese colleague Si Tien.

The performance was staged thanks to a cooperation project between the Youth Theatre and the Wallonie Bruxelles delegation in Vietnam. On the occasion, the Belgian director granted Thoi Nay (Today) publication of Nhan Dan (The People) Newspaper an interview to share his experience during the staging of the play.

Can you share with us what brought you to the project with the Youth Theatre?

Since the Youth Theatre and the Wallonie Bruxelles delegation shared a hope to implement a cooperation project in drama, the delegation contacted the Institute of Arts Diffusion, where I am currently working as a lecturer. They invited me to direct ‘The Blue Bird’, a famous Belgian play by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911.

I accepted the invitation immediately because I have been interested in Vietnam for many years. I really want to work with Vietnamese actors and actresses.

Did you blend Vietnamese culture into the play?

Absolutely. By staging the play with a Vietnamese speaking team, we managed to blend Vietnamese characteristics into the play. In addition, Maurice Maeterlinck himself was influenced by Asian culture, thus his play is also imbued with Eastern philosophy.

What did you do to attract the attention of Vietnamese children, who are often active and noisy at theatre?

The play is very interesting, it is not only humorous but also frightening. In addition, it is also a poetic and romantic play of which the lines are captivating enough to hold the interest of younger audience members. The play invites children on a journey of exploration.

Even if children are a bit noisy it is not a problem as we have many noisy scenes in the play, they are even noisier than children.

What inspired you at the beginning of the staging of the play?

It was curiosity. I was curious to explore how the play would be after it was brought to the stage. I am also happy to work with young Vietnamese actors and actresses, who were always full of enthusiasm and excitement to work on this play.

Did you have any language barrier while working with Vietnamese artists?

It was not difficult for me because we all understand the play’s purpose and once a consensus was reached, the play was always going to be very interesting once it was featured on the stage. The language used in drama is global, so when watching Vietnamese artists’ acting everyone can understand.

What are the differences between Vietnamese and international artists, in your opinion?

They have different acting styles, which are mostly seen through the combination between acting and body language. While in Europe, acting, reading lines and body language are brought together and combined in an artist’s performance; there is a division among the factors in Vietnamese artists’ performance. I observed that older actors found it more difficult to communicate words with their bodies than their younger colleagues.

Vietnamese plays are experiencing a tough period as they are facing severe competition from other forms of entertainment. How is the development of traditional plays in your country?

Plays in Europe also experienced a tough period in 1990s but it has since changed and the form has strongly been revived again. Although plays have a long history and face competition from other art forms such as film and music, the vitality of play’s is unchangeable.

Hanoi is currently in a bustling, rapid and busy development phase. When life is busy, people forget about plays, but when everything cools down, I believe that they will look for plays again.

Thank you so much for your sharing!

The Blue Bird is a mythological play written about the journey of a girl named Mytyl and her brother Tyltyl seeking a bluebird, which represents happiness, in order to help a sick baby girl.

As a graduate from the National Academy of Performing Art, Xavier Lukowski currently teaches acting at the Institute of Arts Diffusion. He has staged about 15 plays and produced three movies. He has won awards at art festivals in Europe and the US.