Saturday, July 10, 2010
Earlier this week I was invited by my former flute teacher, Pham Van Doanh, to see a cheo play at the Kim Ma theatre. The play was called "Nghề nuôi Vẹt", which I think should be translated as "teaching the parrots" or maybe "nourishing parrots". It is a modern play that includes more talking than many of the older cheo plays. Most of the music used for the arias was traditional but the orchestra also played a lot of more western style background music during the performance. I am always impressed by the quality of the performers of the Nha Hat Cheo Viet nam (not to be mixed with Nha Hat Cheo Ha Noi), the singers as well as the musicians are really good! I am well aware that some traditional musicians in Viet Nam regard these modern cheo plays as being non authentic and boring, but even though I do really enjoy listening to more down scaled and "authentic" cheo, the parrot play was pure entertainment! It was probably the most queer thing I have experienced in Vietnam this far. If I understood the plot correctly with my limited knowledge of Vietnamese, it was about a family that owned 4 parrots, Illustrated beautifully by two men and 2 women all dressed in white tights, mini skirts, colourful feathers around ankles and wrists, sparkly silver belts and shiny makeup, all topped off with feather hats. The husband in the family wanted to train them to speak different languages and sing songs. After they have been offered a lot of money for the birds from a rather silly man with a bald cap (who also danced and made out with himself at the same time at one point) the wife joins in and everything turns rather crazy. They get more offers on the parrots and eventually they are offered a billion VND for the birds. At the same time the parrot are not at all keen on being sold as they want to stay with the daughter of the family and they refuse to sing. In the end the husband realises that if he threatens to hit the girl the parrots will do as he says. Of course it all ends well and the play ends with a moral twist were the parents don't get any money, the birds escape and the daughter twirls around on the stage in a shower of bubbles and parrots. A very entertaining evening!