Keeping “fire” for stage

Monday, 2020-08-31 17:22:42
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The Vietnam National Music, Song and Dance Theatre had to postpone the performances of the ballet "Swan Lake" throughout the country due to Covid-19.
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NDO – In addition tourism, sports and many other socio-economic fields, stage activities are facing numerous difficulties due to the return of Covid-19 since late July.

Due to the regulations that limit crowded activities and the aspirations to ensure safety for people, many theatres and art troupes have had to temporarily postpone their activities entirely or gave only a few performances during this period.

In the past, even when the pandemic did not appear, theatre in general and traditional stages had to try to overcome many difficulties in the face of the competition from other types of entertainment means. At present time, the difficulties are heaped up. Following the happy signals in June and July when the first outbreak of Covid-19 was basically put under control, the stage almost returned to the state like the beginning of the year with a lot of losses. Many units, such as Vietnam Puppetry Theatre, Tuoi Tre (Youth) Theatre, Vietnam National Music, Song and Dance Theatre and Vietnam Circus Federation, had to cancel their performing plans in theatres as well as signed tour contracts. In addition to the lack of revenue, many theatres suffered from many other losses as they invested in setting the new programmes and plays while printing leaflets and hiring advertisements in the localities where they had intended to go on tours. For example, the Vietnam Circus Federation had to cancel 38 shows in various provinces and cities having spent over VND100 million for printing leaflets and advertisements. TheVietnam National Music, Song and Dance Theatre has postponed the performances of the ballet “Swan Lake”, which has been meticulously prepared by artists and actors, throughout the country.

Despite difficulties, artists, actors and actresses from public theatres and art troupes have received the minimum wage fromthe State budget and support packages through the programmes and plays ordered by the Ministry of Culture, Sports andTourism. However, the socialised art troupes are facing more difficulties because they could not earn revenues. It meant that artists, actors, actresses and employees did not have income. Meanwhile, they paid the rent and deposits for performances earlier. Therefore, most of the socialised units, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, must still maintain their operations in accordance with the strict implementation of measures to prevent and control the epidemic. It is also difficult for even artists, actors and actresses to focus on acting well on the stage while worrying about the epidemic. A leader of a theatre said that the maintenance of performances is considered as an “emergency exit” that helps artists, actors and actresses maintain their jobs and “aspirations” for the profession in the current situation.

In the context of complicated development of the Covid-19 pandemic, many theatres and stage units should calculate more appropriate modes of operation to gradually restore their activities while still strictly implementing epidemic prevention and control measures. For example, the promotions and discounts of tickets, the programmes to bring stage closer to the public, especially to young people and students, will be effective solutions. The application of technological advances, internet and digital platforms, the creation of YouTube channels and online performances are expected to attract more audiences tothis art form, especially traditional drama stages. They will be practical and effective directions for the stage sector, aiming to maintain and develop the audience market.

The theatres and art units focus on the investment in infrastructure and techniques as well as improving the quality of new programmes and plays and preparing long-term plans once the Covid-19 pandemic is controlled. It is also crucial to create favourable condition for artists to join cultural and art projects and community-based programmes and plays. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism provided stimulus packages for several theatres and art troupes through the building of high-quality programmes and plays. However, the ministry’s support was too small to meet the actual needs. In the long term, it is essential to set out a long-term strategy with funding from the state budget to help theatres and art troupes in developing online performances, towards gradually gaining revenue from sponsorship and advertisement.