Having performed in many places both at home and abroad, “Lang toi” or “My Village” circus-play has won the hearts of thousands of audiences. The most interesting aspect of the newly-arranged play is the use of bamboo to design the stage and create the impressive story about the country and people of Vietnam.
It all began from a meeting of three Vietnamese artists, Director Tuan Anh, Musician Nhat Ly and circus lecturer Nguyen Lan, who have been living and working in Germany and France for many years. After returning to Vietnam many times to learn about the Vietnamese circus art, the artists teamed up and developed the idea for a new type of circus. The result of that co-operation is a show called “Lang toi”. It was staged by the Vietnamese Circus Federation with the participation of artists and directors from the Federation and some musicians from the Vietnam Theatre. Then, a new artistic working environment was created in which each artist took part in this unique journey of creative research, sharing his or her own ideas with other colleagues, a method completely fresh and new to Vietnamese circus performers at the time. The artists were given the freedom to use their own ideas and develop them using the intellect of the entire team which contributed to the success of the play.
The circus-play was first performed abroad at Quai Branly Museum in Paris from June to July 2009 and it excited and surprised the audience. Since then, it has been shown in many countries, such as Belgium, the UK, Spain, the Netherlands and Singapore.
Balancing on a bamboo pole.
“Happiness in work”.
“The girl goes in a forest of bamboos”.
“Sounds of my village”.
“Taking a summer afternoon nap”.
In December 2010 when the play was performed in Orlean, France, in spite of the cold weather and falling snow, a large number of French and overseas Vietnamese flocked to the theatre. Dominique Vouyer, a French viewer said that the play not only showed the amazing circus techniques of Vietnamese artists but also told interesting stories about the culture, life and people of the countryside in Vietnam. During a ten-day show in Anves, Belgium, the circus with a capacity of 1,000 seats was always crowded with viewers that showed the special attraction of the circus play.
“Lang toi” is special because it contains episodes of Vietnamese traditional folk games, dances and circus acts and it is performed against the background of traditional modern music with artistic lighting. Bamboo and straw are used throughout the performance as set decorations as well as for props, creating a lively painting about the countryside in Vietnam. Via the circus items depicting folk games, such as shuttle-cock kicking and swinging, the viewers see skilled circus techniques of the artists who perform contortions, acrobatics and tumbling with bamboo. These manipulations are one of the most powerful and moving things about the show, with each of the performers weaving their poles to create varied images. Traditional daily activities of villagers such as ploughing, watering, house building, and also festive celebrations, are demonstrated by performers and musicians in farmers’ clothing.
With special artistic value, “Lang toi” leaves a lasting impression on foreign viewers and provides a chance for Vietnamese circus artists to show their talent, creativeness and dynamic energy. It also serves as a special cultural bridge, introducing Vietnam’s circus art in particular and Vietnam’s culture in general to international friends.
Story: Vinh Hung - Photos: Anh Phuong