Integrating 'Swan Lake' into Vietnamese Water Puppetry Art

Despite of being a traditional folk art attracting a lot of foreign tourists, the fact is that puppetry art has no longer been interested in by Vietnamese audiences.

Before the coming 4th International Puppetry Festival with the theme of Connecting the World Heritages, reporter of Great Unity Newspaper chatted with Meritorious Artist Chu Luong – Deputy-Director of Thang Long Water Puppetry Theatre, one of Vietnam’s representatives participating in the above Festival.
Reporter: Thank you for this interview! In the position of the host country of the coming 4th International Puppetry Festival, which pieces will be performed by Thang Long Water Puppetry Theatre?
Meritorious Artist Chu Luong: This year, Thang Long Water Puppetry Theatre shall introduce 3 pieces to the Festival including 2 land puppetry pieces those are “Glory from the past”, “The Mother’s Heart” and a water puppetry piece named “Swan Lake”. Of which, the land piece “The Mother’s Heart” which performed by Ha Tay Puppetry Theatre several decades ago  based on the story “Two Birches”. However, this piece has been newly edited by Thang Long Water Puppetry Theatre.
Meritorious Artist Chu Luong
These stage pieces will be performed with the appearance of opera-singing puppets. To realize this plan, before setting the scene, in order to perform the best opera skills, artists of the theatre spent 2 years learning to sing opera.
Moreover, the theatre will also introduce a new water puppetry performance skill. Accordingly, the piece “Swan Lake”, with the combination of symphony, artists will perform puppets-based ballet dance. I would like to say that this has been a big challenge to all artists of the theatre for the two past years. Thanks to this innovation, we are looking orward to receiving interest from international audiences.
Although Thang Long Water Puppetry Theatre is busy with performance during 365 days/year, most of audiences are foreigners not Vietnamese. Can you explain, please?
– Many foreigners are interested in water puppetry because this kind of traditional art brings pleasure to them. However, originality is the second important element, the most important element is that water puppetry art has satisfied aspiration for those characters of civilized countries.
The reason for lacking of Vietnamese audience is not because of negligence or lacking of interest to water puppetry. I found that Vietnamese children have been interested in this kind of art, they clap their hand continuously. After the performance, some children even run to tormentor to ask the artists why the dragon could spits fire or why the fox while chasing the chicken could climb the areca tree, etc….
Especially, since water puppetry always bring surprise and pleasure to its audience, people could throw away stress, worry in daily life by watching this kind of art. The innocence, purity are valuable elements of water puppetry.
like other traditional performance arts, the worry about artist to take over from the previous ones has been one of your most concerns. I have known that you have also been a lecturer of water puppetry at Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema, what is your evaluation about quality of our current traditional fine art training program, especially, puppetry?
– One famous statement I often tell to my students is that “where there is a paddy, there will be a paddy field”. I always instruct my students to recognize the value as well as to bring up and follow their studying occupation. In the recent examination, the fact is that the youth no longer pay attention to water puppetry but market economy. They were attracted by current trend.
However, as far as I have known, water puppetry has been funded by many projects all over the country. I would like to say that this is a happy signal. I hope that this action will be carried out regularly and continuously.
In this “competition”, are artists of Vietnamese Water Puppetry Art self-confident in success?
–  In each international festival, there is a Jury Panel of foreigners for objective assessment.
However, in consideration of the overall qualification, Vietnamese teams have always tried their best. Although success is depended on professional qualification, no regulation prevents creativeness. The most important element for success is creativeness, passion and effort.

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