Sao Star - The Four Palaces: More than a love

Post date 04/18/2018

We have to admit to each other that, director Viet Tu must be brave and love the folk culture so much that he was so risky with the play The Four Palaces.

In the folk-art forms of Vietnam, perhaps the “Hau dong” in Mother Goddess religion is the most attractive type of performance, both having flute, singing, splendid costumes and performing spirit, creating a special interest to the cultural lovers around the world. Therefore, on March 28th, 2015, with the approval of Prime Minister, Viet Nam sent a profile of Practice of the Viet Belief on Mother Goddess to UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of mankind. TV viewers are more or less acquainted with this ritual through the performances of the artists in recent TV shows.

The Four Palaces Show in Ho Chi Minh City

On the night of 9/9/2016, performances of The Four Palaces with 3 parts Chau De Nhi (The Reincarnation of The Second Lady of Highlands), Ong Hoang Muoi (The Reincarnation of The Tenth Prince), Co Be Thuong Ngan (The Reincarnation of The Little Princess of Highlands) received a lot of admires and loves from Southern audiences, as well as foreign tourists about a kind of folk art soaked with the spirit of Vietnamese. With his talent, director Viet Tu has cleverly transformed a spiritual ritual on stage into a night of cultural performances to promote the characteristics of Vietnamese folk culture without losing the sanctity of this special art.

With nearly one hour, artists of the Vietnamese Tradiotional Operreta Association danced, sang and played unique musical instruments (36 strings) in the warm response from the audience. The structure of the play is seamlessly organized with three consecutive parts. There is some interval with just music and singing, but that still made audiences at Ben Thanh Theater cannot take their eyes off artists. The excitement of the night was 3 parts with the same performer, but the spirit, the soul of each character was totally different. The noble Mau Thuong Ngan, Mr. Hoang Muoi with talented poetry, innocent Co doi thuong ngan were 3 most important features to admire.

The impressive performances of the actors, along with the effects of video clips with meticulous details are done in splendid colors, still traditional but really modern. The two Assistant, who did not raise the attention so far, but on the stage of The Four Palaces they become the main focus with the rise and fall of coordinating harmony for the Medium’s costumes. It can be said that the pioneering approach of "using modern ideas to highlight the traditional elements (traditional avangade)" characteristics of director Viet Tu successfully created a unique national artwork of Vietnam.

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The Reincarnation of the Tenth Prince Performance with extraordinary visual effects. The visual effects are the combination of the Vietnamese Worshipping Painting (Tranh Hàng Trống) and morden contemporary
video art – a perfect example of using modern ideas to embrace traditional elements.
Source: Viet Theatre

Before the show, the first floor of Ben Thanh Theater was used by Viet Theater to display items and props used in the ceremony. From the paper craft installation of the protagonists such as the, the King, Little Girls, etc., to the objects commonly used in the process of mediumship (hau dong). The men and women in traditional costume of the four-body dress with towel ropes went around and offered audience with a cup of green tea. That helped bring a little Northern atmosphere into the sunny land of Southern. All of these items were shipped from North by truck.

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All the paper craft installations of the Four Palaces Show from Hanoi were brought to Ho Chi Minh City in
purpose of creating a “perfect” space, sense and atmosphere to audiences there.
Source: Viet Theatre

Refer to behind the scene stories with such fondness to see how much careful director Viet Tu and the crew were, in ways to give audience a concert not just to watch. Most of all, it is the feeling of a particular Vietnamese belief. And because choosing an art form involves a belief so perhaps the performers have to be very careful and full of respect. That is understandable.

“The Four Palaces is a formal activity in the series of events of the 12th International Tourism Fair in Ho Chi Minh City. Prior to this, The Four Palaces had the honor to participate in many other major events at home and abroad. Here are some examples:

-On October 15th, 2015, The Four Palaces was honored to perform the most impressive part in Tanzania, during a grand opening ceremony of Vietnam's largest mobile operator in front of the President and Deputy Prime Minister of Tanzania, Vietnam’s Telecommunication Minister and many distinguished guests from both countries.

-On February 18th, 2016, Cong Nhan Theater with a capacity of nearly 500 seats filled with audience to enjoy the performance of The Four Palaces. This wass an honor for the opening ceremony of the new year 2016 held by Vietnam National Commission of UNESCO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs with desire to introduce the beauty of the Mother Goddess religion. The practice of the belief was submitted to UNESCO to become the next intangible cultural heritage for mankind. The performance was also a special gift for Katherine Muller-Marin, the former director of UNESCO Representative Office in Vietnam, who was named "Heritage Woman" with great contributions for the celebration of Vietnamese culture.

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Mrs. Katherine Muller-Marin - former director of UNESCO Representative Office in Vietnam was making her
inspirational speech about the Practice of the Viet Belief on Mother Goddess on the Four Palaces Show’
stage on February 18
th, 2016 in Hanoi.
Source: Viet Theatre

Over the past year, The Four Palaces has welcomed many ambassadors, cultural attachés: France, Britain, Italy, Poland, Greece, Canada, Argentina, Hungary, Belgium, Unicef .... With thousands of spectators from Vietnam and other countries to admire this unique play.”