American director: Vietnam is beautiful

June 3, 2007

08:32′ 01/06/2007 (GMT+7)


VietNamNet Bridge – Studying in Vietnam on an Asian Fund scholarship, and having staged Tennessee Williams’s play Summer and Smoke in HCM City, American director David Chapman talked about Vietnam and Vietnamese theatre.

When receiving a scholarship to come to any Asian country to study theatre, why did you choose Vietnam?

Yes, I could choose any country in Asia, but I’d known some Asian countries through movies. As for Vietnam, I didn’t know much about it while living in the US. To me, it remained a place of many mysteries so I decided to come here to learn and discover.

Since you’re here now, how do you feel?

Vietnam is an interesting country. I’ve travelled to some places like Hanoi, Hue, Ha Long Bay, Nha Trang and several provinces in the Mekong Delta region. Vietnam is beautiful and her people are friendly and hospitable.

This has prolonged my stay here. Many think that Vietnam is a poor country. But in fact, she is developing fast with many plans such as constructing an underground system.

What about Vietnamese theatre in general and the theatre in HCM City in particular?

Stage producers in HCM City are able to meet audiences’ demands, giving the public what they want. There are many types of theatrical art in Vietnam in general and HCM City in particular for audiences to pick and choose from: tragedy, comedy, modern folk opera, etc.

When visiting such stages as IDECAF, Sai Gon, or Phu Nhuan to watch drama or Hung Dao and the HCM City Opera House for modern folk opera, I always pay attention to audience members. While watching good plays, they don’t talk, eat, answer cell phones, or leave early and vice versa.

There is also an interesting difference between American and Vietnamese theatres: in Vietnam, a stage can perform many different works during a week, while in the US, 90% of theatres usually stage one play for months before moving on to another.

What do you think about modern folk opera?

In the US, there is no type of art that resembles modern folk opera. I have learned that this type of art has strict rules regarding its songs and music. In general, it is very difficult and interesting at the same time.

What do you say about the students from the HCM City College of Theatre and Cinema whom you have recently worked with?

I haven’t had chances to work with many other students. Yet, the 15 students selected to take part in Summer of Smoke are really talented. They adjusted well to my new ways of directing. I think it is actors who contribute the most to a good play. The director is only one who starts an idea.

After Summer and Smoke, do you plan to direct another one?

I’ll stage some new ones, perhaps by American or Russian playwrights. I can’t say for sure now.

(Source: SGGP)


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