Director Tuan Le: Vietnamese culture is a vast repertoire for the arts

Monday, 2019-03-18 08:29:38
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Director Tuan Le
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NDO – Tuan Le is renowned for his role as the creative director of A O Show, Lang Toi (My Village) and Teh Dar, some of the most-anticipated theatrical shows spotlighting Vietnamese culture.

In an interview granted to Nhan Dan (People) Weekly Newspaper, he shared that for him, every art programme is arranged like a dream during which the audience will forget their hardships in life and be able to live in their own dream.

Question: How can you touch the hearts of an audience who can’t understand your language of art?

Director Tuan Le: There are certain similarities in culture and human behaviour among nations around the world. Of course, we cannot forcefully integrate the similarities in our artworks, we must do it in a delicate way.

For example, the Teh Dar show is inspired by the indigenous culture of the Central Highlanders, but it goes beyond that to tell a story of tribes in many other countries and continents, not only limited in Vietnam. If Teh Dar is not introduced as a Vietnamese show, no one will know about this. That is why Teh Dar has universal appeal.

It is said that running for traditional culture is a current trend in today’s life, what do you think about this?

It is commonly seen throughout the world, not only in Vietnam. However, people in foreign countries not only welcome new cultural trends from outside, they have also safeguarded their traditional culture.

When we toured Japan last year, we noticed that their traditional plays were full of audiences, many of them buying tickets for every show of the day. The actors and actresses were busy with their working schedule from the morning until late, and were always welcomed by the audience, who treasure and want to preserve their traditional culture.

The traditional and folklore culture of Vietnam is a vast repertoire but a small part of it has been used and its value has not yet been fully promoted.

It is a big question for me that why do we have to wait until our folklore practices are recognised by the UNESCO to take actions to safeguard and develop the heritage. They are our culture. It must be our business.

What do you think about the Vietnamese cultural repertoire?

At the beginning, we didn’t know exactly what to do, but then when we started working, we realised our culture has so many things which can serve as abundant sources of material for art creation. The cultures of the northern, central, Central Highlands, and southern regions, they are all interesting as long as we have a passionate crew who really go for it. Vietnamese culture is a vast repertoire.

I hope that our recent projects can create a positive influence for the production of more interesting artworks.


The Teh Dar show is inspired by the indigenous culture of the Central Highlanders (Photo: Lune Production)

There are diverse materials for art shows, but why do you choose bamboo for many of your shows?

Aesthetically, I think that bamboo is a beautiful image. It can be hard but flexible and soft at the same time when it is used in the A O show. In Teh Dar, we utilise the martial for circus acts.

Before Teh Dar was brought abroad, people were afraid about whether the show could distinguish itself from our previous shows. When it was introduced in France, it was shown to be very special as the performers are ethnic Central Highlanders who convey a strong message to the audience through their performance.

You have worked in many countries around the world and have won much success with your career abroad, what made you decide to return to Vietnam?

I think that it is not important where you are living but the matter is whether your presence and existence in that place can generate a resonance with others. I returned here to share my knowledge and introduce a positive and creative working manner to others.

When I first returned to Vietnam in 2000, I just wandered around the cities and provinces throughout the north to the south. Without mapping out a detailed itinerary, I just admired the nature, fields, and friendly and happy people. I was really touched by them. I felt so curious that I wanted to worked here in the country.

Lang Toi (My Village) is the first show in my “comeback” effort. As a slow-motion film, My Village recollects childhood memories about a poetic Vietnam through the curious eyes of a child.

Following the success of My Village, I and my co-workers continued with the A O show – which combines bamboo circus acts and music, The Mist - which tells the story of Southern Vietnamese farming life, expressed through neo-classic and contemporary dance, Teh Dar- which features Vietnamese tribal culture of Central Highlanders, and most recently, Palao dance show which is imbued with the Cham ethnic culture. I am nurturing an idea of staging a show on Vietnamese water puppetry.

Thank you so much for your sharing!