Culture Culture

02/11/2020 - 16:28

Predestined to be an actress of traditional theatre

For three years in a row (2018-2020) Pham Thi Le (Hue Traditional Royal Theatre of Art) won gold medals at the national professional theatre festivals. To an artist, it is a huge success.

Pham Thi Le as Thuy Van in Tro doi nghiet Nga

Her first-time lead role as Thuy Van in Tro doi nghiet Nga (Ironic Game of Life) by Theatre Artist Association brought Pham Thi Le a gold medal at the Professional Theatre Festival for tuong (classical opera), bai choi (hut cards) and ca kich (singing drama) in 2018 in Quang Ngai. 

Though set in the feudal society, Tro doi nghiet nga tells the story of today. Because of greed, people are governed by money and power, which ruins morality and causes ironic games of life.

In that society full of envy, Thuy Van is a kind and gentle girl. She gets over all the suffering regardless of the prohibition of her family to be loyal with her love, waiting for her lover Phung Ngoc, who is in jail for his father.

Since Thuy Van was her first lead role, she was under pressure. She spent lots of time practicing. In order to be able to fulfill her role, she always thought she was Thuy Van on stage, but not Le.

Her role as Mo in the play Tinh trong mo (Love in Dream) by Hue Traditional Royal Theatre of Art left a good impression on the audience. It was a deep yet ironic love affair of a couple. They had to get over prejudices and constraints of the rural customs to live and die with their love.

That role not only gave Le a chance to demonstrate her performing, singing and dancing abilities in tuong, but also cost her lots of tears and brought her another gold medal at the National Classical Opera and Singing Drama Festival in 2019. 

Pham Thi Le as Mo in Tinh trong mo

Recently at the National Professional Theatre Festival about the police, Pham Thi Le has again won another gold medal for her part as Captain Hang in Z1 Project by the provincial Theatre Artist Association. The play is about the battle of the police against drug traffickers in the context that our whole country is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of their mission, Hang and Kien had to delay their marriage to participate in the Z1 Project against drug trafficking. Finally Kien, her lover, died while fighting crime and so did their love. Losing her beloved comrade, Captain Hang kept taking pride in her work. She was willing to sacrifice quietly for the peacefulness of the society.

To Pham Thi Le, the role as Captain Hang was a new and adventurous experience because she is an actress of tuong but she played the lead role in singing drama. 

“Singing drama is very hard for actors and actresses of tuong. While tuong is a combination of singing and dancing allowing exaggeration, singing drama requires that I keep my whole body and movements relaxed. I met with a lot of difficulties at first, but I managed to fulfill my part thanks to the detailed guidelines of tuong artists. I did hesitate to take on the part, but since I liked to act as a policewoman and that role suited my characters too, I decided to take the challenge. It was my first time as a singing drama actress. I was thus very surprised to be awarded gold medal,” said Le.

Born in Quang Binh, after her graduation from high school, Pham Thi Le entered Thua Thien Hue Culture and Art College to become a singer. But it was the predestination that brought her to tuong and Hue royal singing and dancing.

After her graduation in royal singing and dancing and Hue tuong, Pham Thi Le has worked at Hue Traditional Royal Theatre of Art for 17 years now. Through her many roles both lead and minor, she has had chances to improve her performing skills in the process. 

Traditional theatre in general and tuong in particular are gradually absorbed in her. The more she plays, the more passionate she becomes. “Every time on stage, I’m not Pham Thi Le any longer, but I live the lives of the characters. Tuong is difficult. It requires special skills and health so that I can combine performing, dancing, and singing, especially in plays with a lot of dancing,” said Le.

Though Le had not taken many lead roles, all her three lead roles won gold medals. It was a huge success. She always reads scripts very carefully and spends lots of time practicing so that she can perform in a natural way.

Her success was impossible without the aid of her husband, Excellent Artist La Thanh Hung, who has been guiding her in each part.

As for traditional art, only with love and passion can an artist attach himself or herself with, especially in the difficult context of theatre at the moment. With that in mind, Le wants to devote herself to theatre. She tries to learn from her seniors to improve her professional skills and to be able to shine on stage until her last moment. 

Story and photos: MINH HIEN