Dr Dao Le Na: We are happy to be part of the joint efforts to make ‘cai luong’ thrive again

Sunday, 2019-02-17 15:33:03
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Dr Dao Le Na, a lecturer from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, and co-founder of YUME (Photo: doanhnhansaoviet.vn)
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NDO - The YUME Art Project recently launched a programme entitled ‘Tiep Buoc Tram Nam (Follow in the Century-Old Tradition) in Ho Chi Minh City with the aim to bring cai luong (reformed theatre) closer to the youth. Nhan Dan (People) Weekly Newspaper spoke with Dr Dao Le Na, a lecturer from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, and co-founder of YUME, to explore more about the programme.

Question: How long ago did you come up with the idea of launching a programme on ‘cai luong’?

Dr. Dao Le Na: I had nurtured an idea to run a project on ‘cai luong’ a long time ago, but I found that such a project would be difficult without a partner.

My initiative finally came to reality in 2018 when the British Council announced a call for ‘cai luong’ training organisations. Bui Thien Huan, who runs the YUME Project with me, has experience in theatre and has cultivated a great passion on developing the traditional stage.

YUME-launched programmes have also received much appreciation and support from People’s Artist, Dr. Bach Tuyet – a celebrated ‘cai luong’ master. The programme was initially entitled ‘Cai luong and the Youth’ before it was officially named ‘Tiep Buoc Tram Nam (Follow in the Century-Old Tradition) as a way to reaffirm our commitment to working for the development of the traditional ‘cai luong’ art form.

What is the current status of ‘cai luong’ from your point of view?

It is obvious that in the digital age, ‘cai luong’ and many other traditional art forms have not received proper attention from the audience, which has somehow pushed young people far away from traditional arts and culture.

If traditional Vietnamese culture receives true love, understanding and appreciation from the youth people, they will create artworks that convey the voice of the nation and raise their awareness of promoting a beautiful image of Vietnam to international friends.

This motivated us to deploy projects on traditional arts and culture, as well as those on ‘cai luong’ in particular.

What made your project draw the attention from the British Council?

The British Council is carrying out a pilot programme on ‘Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth’ in Colombia, Kenya and Vietnam. The British Council is interested in ‘cai luong’ because it is a valuable traditional art form of Vietnam which is facing the risk of being lost. Therefore, they have called on art organisations to carry out projects related to the safeguarding, promotion and teaching of ‘cai luong’ in a bid to raise public awareness of protecting and upholding the art form in the community.

The journey to bring YUME’s ‘Follow in the Century-Old Tradition’ programme to the British Council was not difficult because we shared common views.

Dr Dao Le Na (first from left) at an event held at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities to introduce the Tiep Buoc Tram Nam (Follow in the Century-Old Tradition) to students (Photo: YUME Art Project)

Actually, a number of programmes have been carried out at schools in the southern region to reach younger audiences. However, most of them have failed. How is your project special enough to attract the youth?

I’ve heard about some projects which target to bring the traditional stage to schools. They are interesting I think, but my project is subtly different from them. We do not organise seminars to seek ways to make ‘cai luong’ thrive again, but hold dialogues with the youth instead. Only by listening to young people’s aspirations, can we know how to bring ‘cai luong’ closer to them.

Although ‘cai luong’ is an aged-old traditional art form, its lines and lyrics bring a breath of life, which made it win much favour from listeners.

We target to help participants learn how to truly enjoy ‘cai luong’, thus raising their responsibilities to make the art form survive and flourish again in today’s life.

Why does your ‘cai luong’ programme target the audience of the age group between nine and 19?

The programme includes two courses titled ‘Enjoy cai luong’ and ‘Experience cai luong’. Both are free so we prioritise students.

I think the most suitable age group for the programme is between 9 and 19 since they can understand their mission in preserving and developing ‘cai luong’. Audiences under nine are too little while those above 19 are too busy at work.

What do you think if people describe your work as “shining a small torch in a deep forest”?

We absolutely do not think that we are doing anything in vain. Our society will become better if each person can contribute a work that he thinks is useful. Many small torches will light up the way.

I know we are not alone. There are many people outside who have spared every effort to the development of ‘cai luong, reform and we are happy to have been a part of the efforts.

Thank you so much for your sharing!

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