Culture Culture

12/05/2020 - 08:09

Missing the stage lights

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, all art performances in Hue have been called off. Dedicated artists are missing their jobs after months away from the stage lights.

For several months, artists and performers have found themselves stageless, and they truly miss their jobs. (Photo for illustration only)

Missing the stage

After Tet, all festivals and art shows have been called off or delayed, and artists are no longer standing on the stage. Hue Dramatic Arts Theater and Hue Traditional Royal Theater of Art have resorted to holding small group practices and working sessions while cancelling all public performances.

Merited Artist Dinh Dung, Deputy Director Hue Dramatic Arts Theater, said that as soon as the COVID-19 outbreak escalated, the theater cancelled all performances and warned artists against public performances for tourist audience.

Since social distancing, all artists based in Hue Dramatic Arts Theater have stayed home reading scripts, rehearsing plays, and preparing to participate in professional festivals and stage performances. However, the epidemic has affected the operation of the theater, halting practice activities and prolonging staging shows.

Despite the outbreak’s onslaught, the artists of Hue Traditional Royal Theater of Art still rehearsed “Văn hiến kinh kỳ” (Hue Royal Essences) art program and some other performances in the opening ceremony of Hue Festival 2020. During the 15 days of social distancing, the theater sent videos to artists for home rehearsal.

"Soon, the theater will hold small group rehearsals of no more than 20 people and take wearing face masks seriously," said People's Artist Bach Hac, Director of Hue Traditional Royal Theater of Art.

It has been months since the artists last stood on the stage. During home isolation, many realized how happy they were living to the fullest with their profession.

Artist Tuan Lin said: "We struggle to get by when not performing. Without the stage, our skills will also be affected despite rehearsals at home. We just hope the pandemic will soon be over, so the artists can stand on the stage again and delight the audience”.

Looking forward to virus containment success

According to People's Artist Bach Hac, the epidemic had forced the closures of many relic sites managed by Hue Monuments Conservation Center, and hence causing a reduction in revenue. All professional activities of the theater were postponed to the third and fourth quarter of the year.

If the relic sites are reopened and tickets are sold, the theater will continue to have funds for organizing its professional activities. Hopefully, daily activities can still be maintained. At Hue Dramatic Arts Theater, many of the forced cancelled art shows have affected the theater's revenue.

Not only missing the job, many artists now wrestle with life difficulties when gigs are cancelled. Fortunately, artists in the two theaters, including both contract and temporary artists, still receive their minimum wage, a prompt and caring act of the Department of Culture and Sports and Hue Monuments Conservation Center in support of the artists’ hardships.

However, the extra income from on-stage performance and part-times are lost, worsening the situation.

Meanwhile, freelance artists are pushed to the brink as life becomes more difficult when cultural and artistic activities are called off. Artist P.H. mainly earns from teaching the piano and performing Ca Hue on the river. Since the outbreak, schools are shut down, and so are Ca Hue shows, leaving P.H with no income to afford necessities. Artist T.T, a now-unemployed Ca Hue singer, had to move out of her rented room in Hue to go back home in Phong Dien district.

Artist P.H. shared, “many artists chose Ca Hue as their part time, so even without any shows, they can still get by using other sources of income. Yet full time singers are hurting more. Previously, in the summer, I performed 1-2 shows of Ca Hue every night, fewer in the winter but still enough to make ends meet. Now, things are deadly uncertain ... I just hope the epidemic will soon be over so life can return to normal.”

Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, life’s difficulties spare no one. The artists thus remain optimistic and trust that the epidemic would soon be repelled. Artist Tuan Lin shared: “We do expect disruptions, but we put faith in the drastic policies of the entire political system to push back the pandemic. Artists also strictly follow the province and Government’s health guidelines while also taking specific actions to join the fight against the epidemic, such as raising funds, writing poems and songs to encourage everyone’s spirit.”

Story and photo: MINH HIEN