30/03/2018 22:23 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Quintessence of Tonkin on stage

Staged at the foot of the mountain that hosts Thay Pagoda, around 25km from Hanoi, the performance of Tinh hoa Bac Bo (the Quintessence of Tonkin) highlights six aspects of the cultural essence of the Northern delta, namely Poetry, Buddhism, Nostalgia, Music & Painting, and Joy & Festivities.

Staged at the foot of the mountain that hosts Thay Pagoda, around 25km from Hanoi, the performance of Tinh hoa Bac Bo (the Quintessence of Tonkin) highlights six aspects of the cultural essence of the Northern delta, namely Poetry, Buddhism, Nostalgia, Music & Painting, and Joy & Festivities.

The show is an ambitious entertainment project sponsored by the Tuan Chau Group in an effort to introduce Vietnamese culture and history that dates back thousands of years in a way that links it with contemporary perspectives.

The stage is a 4300m2 water surface at the foot of Sai Son Mountain where Thay Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam, is located. It is the very place that inspires the production of the performance, whose plot tells stories about the founder of Vietnamese water puppetry and the daily life in the old northern delta.


Utilizing contemporary performing arts with more than 200 actors and actresses joining an interactive stage supported by state-of-the-art technology, the show gives the audience an opportunity to discover the history and culture of the north.

The singing of Ca tru (a form of sung poetry in northern Vietnam using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic forms) , northern folk songs, Quan ho folk songs (a form of Vietnamese folk music  with alternating groups of female and male singers issuing musical challenges and responses with topics of love and sentimentality) and Chau van  (spiritual) songs, and water puppetry are performed on the stage with the best visual and audio techniques. The performance also depicts daily activities on the river wharf, military drills, festive events, the life of Confucius students, or the peaceful life in the countryside.

Every part of the performance is so carefully set that it shows the absolutely humble vibe of the villages in northern Vietnam. All the essences of the region are shown perfectly, and candidly.

"This show is unique because most performers are local farmers in the Sai Son area. None can depict the life, culture, spirit and belief of the Tonkin Delta better than the people who live there," said General Director of the project Hoang Nhat Nam.
Performers who participate in this program are of different ages, ranging from 10 to 80. After several rounds of casting, these amateur performers were trained in one year by Tuan Chau Group.


 

The stage of Tinh hoa Bac Bo is a 4,300m2 water surface at the foot of Thay mountain.


Performers who participate in this program are of different ages, ranging from 10 to 80.


The image of women picking up lotus in the early foggy morning starts the performance of Tinh hoa Bac Bo. 


The performance of Tinh hoa Bac Bo.


A scene showing the farmers' happiness with a bumper harvest.


The performance also honors Vietnam’s intangible heritages, including quan ho singing.


Going to pagoda.


A scene depicting northern delta farmers bailing out water in the field. 


Farmers are busy during harvesting time.


The performance of Tinh hoa Bac Bo, which combines a water stage
with modern lighting, portrays the real daily life of northern delta inhabitants. 



A water puppet show.


Visitors interact with artists in the sap dance. 


Contemporary dances combined with modern sound and light systems makes the performance special.


The effect of lights on a water stage impresses viewers. 
 


Talking about rehearsing for the show, 60-year-old Ta Thi Tuat said, “We are farmers who are used to farm work so the acting is not that hard. This program reminds me of my family in the past. More importantly, I think it is a great idea to let small children take part in it as this helps them understand the history of their families better.”

Besides local performers, dancers from Hanoi College of Dance also take part in the performance. Contemporary dancing techniques mingled with modern visual and audio techniques perfect the performance, touching many older viewers who see the images of their younger life.

"The most impressive image for me is how farmers walk in the moonlight and bail out water as if they were dancing. This image is very familiar and dear to me," said Nguyen Hung, an audience member.

Foreigners are also interested in the opportunity to talk with performers after the performance. They are also equally excited by parts of the show. “I have been living in Vietnam for five years but this is the first time I had an opportunity to dig deeper into the culture of the Vietnamese. The most impressive thing is that the performance shows all aspects of Vietnamese culture on the stage. Images of the countryside, and the emotions that they show are truly amazing, “said Cathy, an audience member about the Quintessence of Tonkin.

 
Story: Ngan Ha – Photos: Tat Son