The HCM City Department of Performing Arts is working on a project to provide funding to theatres and drama troupes to release plays on YouTube as a way to bring the art closer to audiences.
|A scene in Bí Mật Vườn Lệ Chi (Secrets of Lệ Chi Manor). Photo courtesy of the producer.
Under the project, Vietnamese plays in cải lương (southern reformed opera) and chèo (northern traditional opera) styles staged by leading theatres will receive financial support from the department.
Twelve State-owned theatres and troupes will be selected to participate in the project’s first period, which is scheduled to launch early next year. If they are successful, private theatres will also be invited.
People’s Artist Ca Lê Hồng said that famous chèo and cải lương plays recognised as canons of Vietnamese theatre written and directed by talented artists Nguyễn Đình Nghi, Trần Hữu Trang, Lưu Quang Vũ, Doãn Hoàng Giang and Xuân Trình should be released on YouTube to keep them alive.
Hồng, who has 50 years of experience working as a theatre scriptwriter, director and producer, said: “Many late talented actors did not introduce their performances to younger generations, but their art was at the top level of the industry.”
“Today, YouTube can help keep our performers' art alive and introduce it to more and more people worldwide,” he added.
Young actors in HCM City in recent years have released productions on YouTube to serve audiences.
“We first thought our shows on YouTube could be for teenagers and young audiences who use the Internet,” said well-known comic actor Trấn Thành of HCM City.
“We were wrong. Many of our viewers are the middle aged and elderly. Their children and grandchildren upload and open the shows for them,” he said.
According to Thành, more and more parents and grandparents are watching theatre on YouTube.
“If you’re late to YouTube as an official channel to introduce your art to audiences, you will be behind the times,” said the 37-year-old actor.
Thành’s latest web drama, called Bố Già (Old Dad), has had more than 90 million views for five episodes just three weeks after its release on YouTube.
It ranked No 1 in trending on YouTube in Việt Nam in January.
The series, Bố Già, is about the life of an older motorbike taxi driver who faces problems earning enough money for his family.
Thành invested VNĐ4 billion (US$172,000) in the production.
Bố Già has been praised by the media and public, receiving thousands of positive comments on Thành’s YouTube channel.
“I love watching on YouTube; it feels close to the actors,” said young viewer Trần Thanh Trúc of Đồng Nai Province.
She said her family of 11 members, including grandparents, enjoyed the series.
Last year, Thành also released The Call, an eight-part web drama about mysterious calls at night, on YouTube. It has attracted more than 6 million views per episode.
Thành’s official YouTube channel has more than 4 million subscribes.
Other comic actors, such as Thu Trang and Huỳnh Lập, have invested billions of đồng in making web dramas and have achieved success.
However, Meritorious Artist and theatre director Mỹ Uyên of 5B Small Theatre said she was worried that releasing works on YouTube could take away audiences from live performances.
“We should consider which plays should be released on YouTube because theatre is usually performed live on stage,” said Uyên, who has 20 years of experience in the industry.