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Oct 2, 2014 - Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, .... Prior to the liberation of Saigon, in South Vietnam, most Cai Luong theatre troupes were ..... rừng (Jungle Trail) by the Northern authors Nguyễn Công Hoan, ...

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Cai Luong (Renovated Theatre): a cultural transfer journey a

Luu Trong Tuan a

School of Government, University of Economics (UEH), 59C Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Published online: 02 Oct 2014.

Click for updates To cite this article: Luu Trong Tuan (2014) Cai Luong (Renovated Theatre): a cultural transfer journey, Creative Industries Journal, 7:2, 92-107, DOI: 10.1080/17510694.2014.960685 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17510694.2014.960685

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Creative Industries Journal, 2014 Vol. 7, No. 2, 92 107, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17510694.2014.960685

Cai Luong (Renovated Theatre): a cultural transfer journey Luu Trong Tuan*

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School of Government, University of Economics (UEH), 59C Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Cai Luong (Renovated Theatre), a theatre form created by Southerners in Vietnam, is the confluence of cultural elements within the country as well as across its border, along the history of the Southern land. This paper contributes to theatre literature in general and Southeast Asian theatre literature in particular by painting an overall picture of the contemporary situation of Cai Luong theatrical art and, through the analysis of cultural transfer in Cai Luong art, deciphering the hybrid nature of Cai Luong theatrical art.

Introduction The southern part of Vietnam is not only the destination of the southward stretching of its territory but also the confluence of cultures, since it was the rendezvous of different races (Them 2008). With its lush Mekong Delta, South Vietnam as well as its folks demonstrate their hospitality towards the immigration of people from the North and other directions, inland and across East Sea (or South China Sea), as well as towards cultural elements including music and theatre. Created by Southerners on the Southern land based on ‘Don ca tai tu’ (informal performance by singers and musicians of traditional music in the southern communities) and ‘Ca ra bo’ (‘Don ca tai tu’ plus dances), Cai Luong is the convergence of cultural elements within the country as well as across its border, along the history of the Southern land, and is the sole theatre art in Vietnam harmonizing Oriental culture and Western culture as well as different subcultures on the land of Vietnam. Cai Luong art thus reflects a process of cultural transfer that is defined as the transference of something from one culture to another (Rogers 2000) or cultural mobility of objects (Greenblatt 2010) such as images or words. In line with Rogers’ (2000) perspective, the cultural transfer process in Cai Luong art also comprises two sub-processes: ‘cultural imposition’ and ‘cultural acquisition’. Cultural imposition, a top-down sub-process, involves the export of cultural elements from Asian or Western theatre forms into Cai Luong art. Cultural acquisition, a bottom-up sub-process, on the other hand, involves the identification of theatrical features from other cultures as being precious for the development of Cai Luong art. Transferred cultural elements in Cai Luong art also underwent a certain change to harmonize with Vietnamese culture generally and Mekong Delta culture specifically. The harmony between the cultural imposition and acquisition sub-processes as well as the dynamic nature of transferred cultural elements (Ritter 2013) in Cai Luong art contribute to the dynamics of cultural transfer in Cai Luong theatre form. Cai Luong can be deemed the soul of Vietnam and the national art (Tuan 2010) since, from its focus in the South (Mackerras 1987), it has spread through the country to North Vietnam, which is the cradle of Cheo (the traditional theatre form of North Vietnam), with the emergence of Cai Luong troupes and theatres in several Northern provinces. In *Email: [email protected] Ó 2014 Taylor & Francis

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contrast, Cheo has not stretched across the country and Cheo troupes and theatres are absent in Central and South Vietnam. From Khe’s (2007) standpoint, Cai Luong is a traditional art of the nation as it was created by the Vietnamese, has undergone inheritance from generation to generation, and with its dynamism and openness still survives and has an audience even though its survival has been endangered due to its lack of suitable venues (Diamond 2012). This paper contributes to theatre literature in general and Southeast Asian theatre literature in particular by painting an overall picture of the contemporary situation of Cai Luong theatrical art and, through the analysis of cultural transfer in Cai Luong art, deciphering the hybridity nature of Cai Luong theatrical art from Diamond’s (2012) perspective.

Overview of Cai Luong theatrical art Contemporary situation of Cai Luong theatrical art Although it survives, the Cai Luong theatrical form has elapsed since its golden time in the 1960s to 1970s, and Cai Luong as well as Vietnamese traditional theatrical forms have faced the erosion of its popular base by foreign videos, television imports and the films that have gushed into creative industries in Vietnam since the advent of its ‘open door’ policy or doi moi (Diamond 1997). Cai Luong apparently fails to attract young audiences, who find it old-fashioned and melancholy (Diep 2012). Tuan (2010) further looks at the declining quality of scripts and performance of young actors as the causes of its unattractiveness and uncompetitiveness. He underscores that the attractiveness of Cai Luong is partly contingent on distinctiveness in the singing and acting of each actor in the collective performance on the stage. Young Cai Luong actors nowadays demonstrate professional singing skills but do not exhibit distinctiveness in their singing and acting (Tuan 2010). Meanwhile, Cai Luong actors in the previous generation built their names as well as contributed to variety on the stage through this distinctiveness, such as rusticity in the ^ melancholy in the voice of Ut  Tra On,  Bạch Lan and touchingness in the voice voice of Ut of Thanh Nga (Tuan 2010). Another reason why Cai Luong theatrical art used to attract audiences to theatres in its golden time is the Confucian values of Chinese culture underlying the plays, whether based on Chinese or Vietnamese history or legends or Vietnamese modern stories. After the liberation of Saigon (presently Ho Chi Minh City) in 1975, and especially during the war with China on the northern border beginning in 1979, Chinese history-based Cai Luong plays were banned on Cai Luong stages. Under the central planning of the Ministry of Culture and Information, Cai Luong troupes could only build Cai Luong plays based on Vietnamese history or legends, especially on stories of the Vietnam War or the socialist regime, which demonstrate communist philosophy and its success in Vietnam society. Numerous melodies in Cai Luong art that originated from Chinese folk or modern songs were also not permitted. Some musicians such as Đức Phu in Minh Tơ theatre troupe with his creativity adapted some Vietnamese folk songs to the melody of Cai Luong, creating a trend of integrating the genre of Vietnamese folk songs called ‘Ly’ to Cai Luong plays. To exist and to attract audiences to theatres, Cai Luong troupes flexibly alternated plays with the themes of the socialist society with those of Vietnamese history or legends. For instance, Thanh Minh theatre troupe the most famous Cai Luong theatre troupe during the 1970s and 1980s with the star Thanh Nga also had to alternate Vietnamese history or legend-based plays such as ‘Tiếng trống M^e Linh’ (‘Drum Sounds from Me Linh

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Capital’) or ‘B^en cầu dệt lụa’ (‘Weaving Silks by the Bridge’) with socialist theme plays such as ‘Tấm l ong của biển’ (‘The Heart of the Sea’) or ‘Sau ngay cưới’ (‘After the Wedding Day’). Since Vietnam opened its doors in 1986 (Tuan 2013) and reconstructed its relationship with China, although Cai Luong art has been declining, the return of some banned melodies and plays to Cai Luong theatres have provided Cai Luong fans with plays of thematic variety not merely on stages but also in the Cai Luong film market. Even though smaller audiences have been attracted to Cai Luong theatres, the film market has still been developing. Since the ‘open-door’ policy, Cai Luong has gained more support from the government for some key reasons. First, although Cai Luong was born in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam, the Northerners in the cradle of the communist regime show an even higher interest in Cai Luong than in Cheo. Several provinces in North Vietnam have a state-owned Cai Luong theatre company. Second, to build a relationship with the USA, which values the cultural values of South Vietnam, Cai Luong art needs to be paid equal support in comparison with other theatrical forms in North Vietnam. The Tran Huu Trang Award for Cai Luong talent has been built on the premise of the Thanh Tam Award before 1975. More Cai Luong actors in South Vietnam were also awarded the title Nghe si Nhan dan (The People’s Artist), starting with Phung Ha, then Ba Van, Bay Nam, Ut Tra On, Diep Lang, Thanh Tong, Bach Tuyet, Ngoc Giau and Le Thuy. Finally, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) certification of Don ca tai tu, the predecessor form of Cai Luong art, as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity inspired the government into new action plans to build sustainable growth for Don ca tai tu and the Cai Luong theatrical form as well. Cai Luong theatre troupes and theatres Prior to the liberation of Saigon, in South Vietnam, most Cai Luong theatre troupes were of private ownership, mainly pertaining to two families: the Minh Tơ family who specialized in Cai Luong Ho Quang (renamed as Cai luong Tuong co after 1975) (Cai Luong plays based on Chinese history or legends) and the Nam Ngh~ıa family who mainly focused on Cai Luong plays based on Vietnamese history or legends or modern stories. In North Vietnam before 1975, there was only one state-owned Cai Luong theatre company: Đoan Cải Lương Nam Bộ (South Vietnam Cai Luong Theatre Company), whose actors were Northerners with a Northern accent in singing and dances borrowed mainly from Cheo theatre form. The mission of this Cai Luong theatre company was, through its performances of Cai Luong plays with themes of soldiers’ lives and sacrifice, to inspire the soldiers, especially those from South Vietnam, to devote their lives to the Vietnam War. Cai Luong melodies from the plays aimed at increasing the soldiers’ nostalgia and drive to win the war to return to their homelands. The liberation of Saigon ended the existence of private Cai Luong theatre troupes in South Vietnam. In other words, all Cai Luong theatre companies were then state-owned. Most provinces in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam had one Cai Luong theatre company. Cai Luong theatre companies were established in major cities in North Vietnam such as Hanoi and Hai Phong. Among all Cai Luong companies have been two major companies, Tran Huu Trang company in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi Cai Luong Theatre in Hanoi. Nonetheless, as Vietnam opened its doors, some private Cai Luong troupes were formed. However, due to the declining status quo of Cai Luong art, a few private Cai Luong troupes without governmental subsidy were closed since they could not maintain performance nights for low audiences.

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Prior to the ‘open-door’ policy in 1986 (Tuan 2013), although Cai Luong theatre companies did not have their own theatres, some theatres, such as Cao Đồng Hưng, Quốc Thanh and Hưng Đạo, were put aside for performances. Nonetheless, since 1986, only Hưng Đạo theatre has existed and waited for only a few performances of Cai Luong excerpts annually. In the Mekong Delta, theatre companies tend to organize their performances in the Cultural House of the province or build the stage in the open area. In North Vietnam, Cai Luong plays are performed in spoken drama or Cheo theatres.

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Stars and audience Numerous Cai Luong stars emerged during its golden age of the 1960s and 1970s. Cai ^ Thanh Được, Minh Cảnh, Minh Phụng, Thanh  Tra On, Luong male stars included Ut T ong, Diệp Lang, Thanh Sang and Minh Vương. Female stars included Phung Ha, Thanh Nga, Bạch Tuyết, Ngọc Giau, Mỹ Ch^au, Lệ Thủy, Phượng Li^en, Bạch L^e, Thanh Kim  Bạch Lan. Cai Luong stars at that time built their own names not through marHuệ and Ut keting means but through the uniqueness of their singing, which is suitable for specific ^ is memo Tra On roles in specific plays. For instance, with the rusticity in his singing, Ut rable in his performance of the song ‘Tınh anh ban chiếu’ (‘Love of a Mattress Man’) as well as in the role of the farmer Tam Khỏe in the Cai Luong play ‘Người Ven Đ^o’ (‘The Man in the Suburb’). Thanh T ong, with a strong echo in his singing, created memorable images on the stage, such as chancellor L y Đạo Thanh in ‘C^au thơ y^en ngựa’ (‘A Poem on the Horse’s Back’) or Justice Bao in ‘Bao C^ ong tra an Quach Hoe’ (‘Justice Bao Investigates the Case of Quach Hoe’). Thanh Nga, with a sweetness but robustness in her singing, created the stage image of Quỳnh Nga, a district governmental officer’s daughter who leaves her luxurious house to build a silk shop by the bridge in her dedication and faithfulness to her love, in the play ‘B^en cầu dệt lụa’ (‘Weaving Silks by the Bridge’). She also created the stage image of Trưng Trắc who is smart and decisive in her arguments as well as in her fighting with Chinese generals in ‘Tiếng Trống M^e Linh’ (‘Drum  Bạch Lan successSounds from Me Linh Capital’). Through melancholy in her voice, Ut fully expressed the role of sad women in numerous plays such as ‘Nửa đời hương phấn’ (‘Half a Life in Perfume and Powder’), ‘Chưa tắt lửa long’ (‘Still in Love’), ‘B^en đồi trang c~ u’ (‘On the Hill under the Old Moon’) and ‘Nửa bản tınh ca’ (‘Half a Love Song’). Since 1975, new generations of Cai Luong stars have emerged, such as V~u Linh, Kim Tử Long, Hoang Nhất, Tai Linh, Ngọc Huyền, Thanh Ng^an and Quế Tr^an, although their names have not outshined the previous stars in the audience’s imagination. Very few new Cai Luong stars create the distinctiveness in their singing and performance as the former generation did. Some stars seem to simulate the singing and acting of the former generation of artists such as Thanh Ng^an with her singing and acting similar to Thanh Nga’s, and Quế Tr^an with her acting similar to Bạch L^e’s. Cai Luong theatrical art in its golden time appealed to different age groups of audience. A lot of teenagers used to be attracted to Cai Luong theatres and some even dreamed of becoming Cai Luong actors. Once such teenager was Bach Tuyet, who loved Cai Luong and managed to meet Thanh Nga behind the scenes. With Thanh Nga’s inspiration, she managed to become a Cai Luong star. Nonetheless, the current audience of Cai Luong art in Saigon includes mainly people of middle age upwards who have been fans since its golden time. In the Mekong Delta, the audience varies in age since the old generation of audience has inspired the younger generation with a love for folk melodies, ‘Don ca tai tu’ and Cai Luong theatrical art. Official ‘Don ca tai tu’ clubs in most Mekong Delta provinces as well as informal

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gatherings of neighbours, relatives and friends for ‘Don ca tai tu’ also encourages Cai Luong melodies into young audience’s souls.

Attempts to revive Cai Luong art Since the decline of Cai Luong art in the early 1980s, numerous attempts to revive Cai Luong theatrical art have been implemented. Cai Luong shows have been maintained on media such as television and radio, although at an increasingly lower frequency. On Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV), Cai Luong shows, which used to be broadcast every Saturday evening from 8pm to 11 pm, have been reduced to once a month. On television channels in the Mekong Delta, Cai Luong shows have decreased in broacast frequency from three or four a week to once weekly. However, since HTV has been producing cable televsion programmes, one cable channel has been put aside for Cai Luong shows. When theatres for Cai Luong performance such as Cao Đồng Hưng and Quốc Thanh were closed and transformed into a bookstore and wedding restaurant, respectively, the initiative of the ‘Vầng trang cổ nhạc’ programme (‘Moon of Traditional Melodies’) has been implemented in Dam Sen park, Ho Chi Minh City, which invites old and young stars of Cai Luong to sing Vong Co songs or perform excerpts of famous Cai Luong plays. This free live performance is also broadcast live on television. Following the success of this initiative, Ho Chi Minh City radio station has launched weekly Vong Co tournaments that have attracted numerous candidates from diverse provinces of South Vietnam, some of whom later became Cai Luong actors. Similar tournaments have also been organized in a few Mekong Delta provinces and Eastern provinces such as Dong Nai and Tay Ninh. The tournaments of the highest caliber organized by HTV include ‘Chuong vang vong co’ (‘Vong Co Golden Bell’), which aims to identify Cai Luong talents from the community, and ‘Giot nang phu sa’ (‘Sun on Silt’), which is designed to transmit knowledge of Cai Luong theatrical form to the audience. The success of the ‘Vầng trang cổ nhạc’ iniative with the performance of Cai Luong excerpts also indicated to directors of some spoken drama theatres such as Hong Van and Vu Xuan Hung that long Cai Luong plays with slow rhythms and the domination of Vong Co singing over stage speech and comic elements appear unattractive to a young audience. Phu Nhuan Spoken Drama Theatre, owned by Hong Van, has launched short Cai Luong plays of roughly two hours with less Vong Co singing and more stage speech and comic elements, and attracted numerous fans of spoken drama to Cai Luong plays. Minitheatres such as Tieng Xua and Nam Quang also have invited Cai Luong talents to perform excerpts of famous Cai Luong plays as well as share with the audience their career memories. Like spontaneous contributions of mini-theatres to the revival of Cai Luong art, some modern music composers, in the hope to remind young people of Cai Luong melodies, have creatively integrated a single sentence of the Vong Co song into modern songs such as ‘Vọng Cổ buồn’ (‘Sad Vong Co Song’), ‘Miền T^ay Qu^e t^oi’ (‘My Western Motherland’) or ‘Teen Vọng Cổ’ (‘Teens’ Vong Co Song’), which have spread extensively among the young audience. UNESCO’s certification of ‘Don ca tai tu’ as Vietnam’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in February 2014 has brought a new breeze to Cai Luong art. Through the Ministry of Culture and Information’s new strategies, ‘Don ca tai tu’ clubs and Cai Luong talents, as well as Cai Luong theatres and quality scripts, have been being developed to pull the audience back to Cai Luong art and its theatres.

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Cai Luong as a hybrid theatre with strong cultural transfer Hybridity in Cai Luong art From Brandon’s (1967, 115 124) view, the concept ‘traditional theatre’ alludes to theatre that has existed for generations and is composed of components characteristic of the Southeast Asian region. These components encompass plots that are episodic and didactic, and include comical, farcical, melodramatic and serious elements; an absence of scripts; the amalgamation of some media (such as dance, music, drama); strongly typed characters; non-realistic settings; and performance for community events. From this view of traditional theatre, Cai Luong and its predecessors ‘Don ca tai tu’ and ‘Ca ra bo’ lack the last component since they are not theatre forms performed for community events. Notwithstanding their presence in some community events, ‘Don ca tai tu’ is an informal gathering of neighbours or friends after a working day or week on the field, and Cai Luong and ‘Ca ra bo’ are commercial theatre forms. In a similar vein, according to Diamond (2012), a theatre form can be termed traditional or ‘premodern’ (usually meaning ‘precolonial’) if it is authentic to the people prior to Western intervention. Cai Luong was however built during French intervention. Cai Luong is more a hybrid theatre since it is not constrained by rigid rules of ‘Don ca tai tu’, but offered novelty the latest trend at the height of its public interest, moving on to something else when it no longer aroused curiosity or enthusiasm (Diamond 2012). Hybrid performances did not display the same fidelity to a written text that came to characterize modern spoken drama, but their skeletal scripts necessitated improvisation and allowed for comic digressions (Diamond 2012). Nonetheless, unlike some hybrid theatre forms in Southeast Asia, Cai Luong emerged not in response to the greater leisure and prosperity among the urban middle class desiring entertainment to reflect their status, but for a rural, lower class of people (Diamond 2012). This point tells Cai Luong apart from Bangsawan (meaning “noble people”), which emerged in the wake of the rapid social, economic, and political changes caused by British colonial expansion into the Malay Peninsula in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (Tan 1993, 8), depicting life and issues entailing the noble class members (Bujang 1975, 20). Cai Luong art shares audience characteristics with kethoprak a twentieth-century form of popular drama with wide appeal for lower-class audiences in Central Java (Hatley 1990). Likewise, Cai Luong shares audience characteristics with ludruk, a proletarian urban theatre form in Surabaja, Java (Brandon 1976), which portrays social mobility of the lower classes (Peacock 1990). Furthermore, Cai Luong integrates more informal language into the stage speech of actors even in plays with traditional themes. Therefore, in terms of language use, Cai Luong is consistent with Komedie Stamboel, a commercial Malay language theatre from colonial Indonesia, composed mostly of plays based upon tales from One Thousand and One Nights (Cohen 2004), which displays hybrid performances using low, and occasionally ‘dirty’, Malay language (Cohen 2002). The hybrid nature of Cai Luong art in terms of theme, plot, melodies and linguistics will be analysed through the structure of Cai Luong play and cultural transfer in Cai Luong art. The hybridity of Cai Luong theatre form is reflected in the structure of a Cai Luong play as the fusion of Tuong (a classical ‘Vietnamese opera’ genre) plot, Confucian values through the play and in happy ending, stage speech of spoken drama style or Tuong style, Vong Co song and folk songs, and dances originating from Tuong theatre. A Cai Luong play typically consists of three acts:

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Act 1  Stage speech  (Dialogue or monologue of spoken drama style in plays with contemporary themes and of Tuong style in historical plays)  Folk songs  (Stage speech)  Two to four sentences of Vong Co song based on the basic pentatonic scale ‘Ho, xừ, xang, x^e, cống’, which is consistent with the Chinese five element philosoply (metal, wood, water, fire and earth)  (Stage speech)  Folk songs  (Stage speech)  Vong Co song  Stage speech ...  (Dances tend to be woven with singing in Cai Luong plays of historical themes) Act 2 (climax) Emergence of conflicts or problems to the ‘good’ characters Act 3 Happy ending, reflecting the reunion of main characters or the winning of ‘good’ over ‘bad’ (Confucian value) Cultural transfer across the border Cai Luong art reflects the transfer of cultural elements from diverse cultural areas within the country as well as from neighbouring countries and remote Western countries along the colonization process. Cai Luong is thus the rendezvous between Oriental culture and Western culture from scripts to acting on the stage. Stories from Asian history or literature, primarily Chinese, has the propensity to penetrate scripts of historical typology, whereas stories from Western culture tend to blend themselves into modern or contemporary Cai Luong typology. Asian influences Asian influences, especially Chinese influences, have made a considerable contribution to the hybridity of Cai Luong art. Chinese culture has a strong influence on Vietnamese theatre forms including Cai Luong in terms of themes, plots, language, music and dance, not only since Vietnam is geographically closer to China than India (the second Asian major culture), but also because Chinese cultural elements have been prominent as transcendent values among Southeast Asian cultures. Cai Luong emerged when traditional moral values were fading under the invasion of a Western lifestyle; therefore, Cai Luong plays aimed to reinforce Confucian values by using Chinese history or legends as plot lines. Chinese historic or literary works have drifted into Cai Luong scripts either directly, such as ‘Con gai Hoa Mộc Lan’ (‘Hoa Mộc Lan’s Daughter’) from Chinese history, ‘V~o

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T ong sat tẩu’ (‘Vo Tong Kills his Older Sister-in-Law’) from the novel Shuihu Zhuan (Water Margin) by Shi Nai’an, and ‘C^ o gai Đồ Long’ (‘The Girl Who Kills the King’) from the martial novel The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber by Jin Yong (Louis Cha); or through Tuong theatre, such as ‘Thần Nữ d^ang ng~u linh kỳ’ (‘The Goddess Hands Five ^ (‘Beheading Trịnh An’), ^ Magic Flags’), ‘Trảm Trịnh An’ and ‘Bao C^ong tra an Quach H oe’ (‘Justice Bao Investigates the Case of Guo Huai’). Nonetheless, Cai Luong plays reflect virtually no direct loan of the plots of Chinese opera. For instance, the Cai Luong play ‘Phụng Nghi Đınh’ portrays a scheme in the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220 280) in Chinese history in which the beauty of Đi^eu Thuyền (Diaochan) was used to trigger the clash between the warlord Đổng Trac (Dong Zhuo) and his foster son Lữ Bố (L€u Bu). However, it borrowed the plot from Tuong theatre, which had not been derived from the plot of ‘The Three Kingdoms’ play of Chinese opera but from the Chinese historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong. Chinese cultural transfer is mirrored in Cai Luong scripts as well as in their language and music. Language in the scripts of historical Cai Luong typology, which emanate from Chinese history or literature, or Vietnamese legends in the feudal time, contains a number of Chinese sayings in Sino-Vietnamese language or their translations into Vietnamese. Direct borrowing or loan translation (Vinay and Darbelnet 2000) of Chinese sayings are resorted to in historical Cai Luong scripts as a linguistic device to reinforce values of Confucianism or as a stylistic device to reflect the role-relationship interpersonal function of language as referred to by Halliday (1985) between the speakers of a higher social role, such as monarchs or mandarins, and their conversational partners. Nevertheless, the hybrid form of the original sayings in Sino-Vietnamese and their Vietnamese literal translations, which occur in such a sequence, is adopted in several stage speeches. This hybridization produces a high stylistic degree in the language of performers, especially in the plays of feudal themes, and it also augments the audience’s decoding of their stage speeches. The hybrid form can be performed by a single actor who first utters the Sino-Vietnamese saying then translates it into Vietnamese. As in the stage speech of Tiết Đinh San in the play ‘Thần nữ d^ang ng~u linh kỳ’ (‘The Goddess Hands Five Magic Flags’), the character ‘Tiết Đinh San’ produces a Sino-Vietnamese saying ‘tri kỳ bỉ, bất tri kỳ thử’ then translates this incomprehensible saying into Vietnamese as ‘Ba bắt tội người ta ma sao kh^ ong xet lỗi mınh vậy soai th^e?’ (‘Commander, why did you blame another without looking back at yourself?’). The translation of the SinoVietnamese saying is occasionally uttered by another actor. Also in the Cai Luong play ‘Thần nữ d^ang ng~ u linh kỳ’, Tiết Ứng Lu^ ong translates the Sino-Vietnamese saying ‘Tử bất giao la phụ chi qua. Giao bất nghi^em tức sư chi đọa’ (‘The teacher is responsible for his student’s faults. The father is responsible for his son’s faults’), which his father Tiết Đinh San articulated. Chinese address forms also infiltrate into and blend with Vietnamese address forms in the historical typology of Cai Luong theatre, as illustrated in the play ‘Thần nữ d^ang ng~u linh kỳ’ (‘The Goddess Hands Five Magic Flags’) in which such Chinese address forms as ‘th^an mẫu’ (‘mother’), ‘lang’ (‘husband’), ‘nương’ (‘wife’), ‘chang’ (‘honey’ masculine form, addressed by the girl), ‘nang’ (‘honey’ feminine form, addressed by the boy) are interchangeably utilized with such Vietnamese address forms as ‘mẹ’ (mother), ‘anh’ (‘I’ or ‘you’ referring to the husband), ‘em’ (‘I’ or ‘you’ referring to the wife). This amalgamation of address forms is also encountered in Cai Luong plays based on Vietnamese historical legends such as ‘B^en Cầu dệt lụa’ (‘Weaving Silks by the Bridge’) in which both Chinese address forms ‘huynh’ (‘older brother’) and ‘đệ’ (‘younger brother’) and

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their respective Vietnamese address forms ‘anh’ and ‘em’ occur simultaneously (BDLAA 2004, 257). With the removal of Sino-Vietnamese songs such as ‘Hat khach’ and ‘Hat Phu Lục’, which contribute to the ancient hue of Tuong theatre form, Cai Luong scripts are more comprehensible to and attract more audience, especially from the lower classes. Nonetheless, because of the elimination of Sino-Vietnamese singing from Cai Luong art, some Sino-Vietnamese lexicons are added to its stage speech to create the ancient feudal atmosphere required for historical plays. Consequently, in some Cai Luong scripts of historic themes that were borrowed from Tuong plays, the stylistic degree of the stage speech with more Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary is even higher than that in the corresponding Tuong plays. Comparing the formality of the stage speech between the Tuong play and the Cai Luong play of the script ‘Thần nữ d^ang ng~u linh kỳ’ reveals that whereas the Tuong play contains informal lexicons such as ‘cha vợ’ (‘father-in-law’), ‘bại trận’ (‘lose a battle’), ‘đanh te l^en te xuống’ (‘knock down’) and ‘trao mau hộc mau’ (‘vomit blood’), the Cai Luong play demonstrates a higher degree of formality with such Sino-Vietnamese lexicons as ‘nhạc gia’ (‘father-in-law’) and ‘thất thế’ (‘lose a battle’). Along with the transfer process of literary and linguistic elements from Chinese culture into Cai Luong art, some Chinese songs from Chinese opera also entered Cai Luong plays and were performed using Vietnamese lyrics, encompassing Xang xừ lıu Khốc ho ang thi^ en and Liễu thuận nương (Giang 2006, 396). Modern Chinese songs from Taiwanese movies also penetrated Cai Luong theatre in the early 1960s. The composer and actor Đức Ph u in the V~ınh Xu^an Bầu Thắng theatre troupe was a pioneer in writing Vietnamese lyrics for some modern melodies in the Taiwanese movie Lương Sơn B aCh uc Anh Đ ai and integrated them into the Cai Luong play that he wrote based on this love story. Cai Luong art reflects selective Chinese cultural integration not merely in terms of plots, language and melodies, but philosophy as well, especially Confucian philosoply. Embedded in the philosophy of several Cai Luong scripts are values of Confucianism including loyalty to the monarchy as in ‘Phụng Nghi Đınh’, loyalty to the husband as in ‘Thần nữ d^ang ng~ u linh kỳ’, filial piety to parents as in ‘Kim V^an Kiều’, ‘Lục V^an Ti^en’, and so on. However, when these values entered Cai Luong scripts of Vietnamese historical legends, variants of Confucian values emerged, such as a distinctive variant of loyalty in the Cai Luong play ‘Thai hậu Dương V^an Nga’ (‘Queen Dương V^an Nga’) in which, with her responsibility to ‘one hundred family names’ over the dynasty of one family, the queen crowned L^e Hoang a talented commander who together with all the people defended the country against the Chinese invader when her son the King of the Đinh Dynasty was only three years old. Despite the Confucian value hiearachy of ‘Qu^an, Sư, Phụ’ (‘King, Teacher, Father’), loyalty to the king, in some Cai Luong scripts, is deemed less crucial than loyalty to parents or spouses, as in the play ‘B^en cầu dệt lụa’ (‘Weaving Silks by the Bridge’) in which Trần Minh resisted the king’s marriage arrangement for him and the princess since he could not abandon his fiancee in his hometown waiting for his return (BDLAA 2004, 251 252). Besides Chinese culture, which has cascaded into Cai Luong theatre through the direct borrowing of plots, language and philosophy from Chinese history or literature, or through indirect borrowing of these cultural elements from Tuong plays, other Asian cultures have made their way into Cai Luong plays. An illustrative example of Japanese culture transfer into Cai Luong theatre is the play ‘S^à u l^en ngo ̣n cỏ ’ (‘Sorrows over the Grass’) derived from Kurosawa Akira’s film Rashomon, which is based on Akutagawa Rynosuke’s short story ‘Yabu no naka’ (‘In a Grove’) (Nam 2012). Cultural transfer from

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neighbouring Cambodia is encountered in the Cai Luong play ‘Nang X^e-Đa’ (‘Lady X^eĐa’) based on a Cambodian folk tale. Western influences Western influences in terms of plots, language and music have contributed to the hybrid nature of Cai Luong theatrical art. Western cultures have infiltrated into Cai Luong plays through Vietnam’s direct contact with French civilization as well as indirect contact with other Western cultures pending French colonialism. With adaptability as the essence of Cai Luong art, it has borrowed certain features of Western spoken drama into its plays, such as increasing the ratio of stage speech in a Cai Luong play and reducing the ratio of singing as well as the length of each singing phase. Each Vong Co singing phase was diminished into merely one ‘sentence’ (a melodic unit of Vong Co song). Western values were infused into Cai Luong plays, either through scripts of Western literature or through the themes of contemporary society under Western impact, primarily conflicts between traditional values and modern values. Numerous Cai Luong scripts have roots in Western literature or movies (see Table 1). As one of the Cai Luong playwrights who constructed plays from Western movies, Nguyễn Hiền Phu even retained the name ‘Sạc L^ o’ (‘Charlotte’) in his plays ‘Gai trả thu cha’ (‘Her Revenge for her Father’) and ‘Tınh nặng cừu s^au’ (‘Love and Hatred’) based on Charlie Chaplin movies. Several Cai Luong scripts reflect issues of contemporary society, especially of the young generation who absorbed Western education. However, the clash between traditional values and Western values in Cai Luong scripts tends to be harmonized and balanced in happy endings. Tragic ends of Western plays as in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or ‘Hamlet’ have hardly infiltrated into Cai Luong scripts due to the still strong influence of the Buddhist theory of action and result (karmaphala) which returns happiness to protagonists with utilitarian hearts. Western values can be observed in some Cai Luong scripts such as ‘Nửa đời hương phấn’ (‘Half a Life in Perfume and Powder’), which values the

Table 1. Cai Luong plays and their corresponding Western works. Cai Luong plays

Western works the plays were based on

‘Bằng hữu binh nhung’ Les trois mousquetaires a novel by Alexandre Dumas ‘Gia trị va danh dự’ ‘Le Cid’ a tragicomedy by Pierre Corneille ‘Gio Ngược Chiều’ ‘Ruy Blas’ a tragic drama by Victor Hugo ‘Mộng Hoa Vương’ La Reine Christine a film by Rouben Mamoulian ‘S~ı V^an c^ong chua’ ‘Tristan et Iseult’ a legend during the twelfth century through French medieval poetry La dame aux cam elias a novel by ‘Tơ vương đến thac’ Alexandre Dumas, fils ‘Tuy Hoa Vương Nữ’ ‘Marie Tudor’ a play by Victor Hugo

Cai Luong playwrights Nguyễn Thanh Ch^au (Nam Ch^au) Huỳnh Thủ Trung (Tư Chơi) Nguyễn Thanh Ch^au (Nam Ch^au) Trần Hữu Trang Đặng C^ ong Danh

Ng^ o V~ınh Khang Nguyễn Thanh Ch^au (Nam Ch^au)

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personality and morality of a person over her job as a prostitute, or ‘Đoạn tuyệt’ (‘Farewell to the Past’), a Cai Luong script dramatized from a novel by Nhất Linh, which advocates feminism or the new active role of woman in the family, not as an ‘unpaid servant’ or even a slave to the entire family of her husband. Some Cai Luong scripts, although supporting Western values, still do not encourage the coercive adoption of Western values in society, but rather, the gradual education and adaptation of Vietnamese people’s cognitive attitudes towards the novel Western values, especially for farmers who have been long confined within feudal norms. This is mirrored in a comic excerpt of the Cai  Nguyệt’ in which T^am blames T^an who is T^am’s blood uncle but Luong play ‘T^ o Anh T^am does not know for his incivility when T^an has entered the house over the fence rather than ringing the bell and waiting. T^an then tells T^am he will get out and ring the bell. Western culture transfer has introduced into Cai Luong plays not merely Western values but loanwords as well, largely from the French. French loanwords such as ‘oui’, ‘non’, ‘bonjour’, ‘monsieur’, ‘merci’, ‘pardon’ and ‘au revoir’ are produced by characters with Western orientation. Cai Luong plays tend to make such characters articulate such loanwords with the aim of criticising the abuse of foreign language, thereby building the right mindset towards how to harmonize Western values with traditional values in the community. This role of value building in Cai Luong art is mirrored in an excerpt from  Nguyệt’ in which T^an Nguyệt’s younger brother who the Cai Luong play ‘T^ o Anh internalizes Western education, criticizes the father of Minh Nguyệt’s boyfriend against his abuse of foreign loanwords as evidence of deviance from the good values of Vietnamese culture as well as a misunderstanding of Western values. Western melodies have also followed the cultural transfer into Cai Luong theatre. Some French songs, whose lyrics were transformed into Vietnamese lyrics, were introduced into some Cai Luong plays such as ‘La Madelon’ in the play ‘Giọt lệ chung tınh’ (‘Faithful Tears’), ‘Marinella’ in the play ‘Ph~u phang’ (‘Cruelty’), ‘Pouet Pouet’ in the play ‘Tiếng n oi trai tim’ (‘Voice from the Heart’) and ‘Tango mysterieux’ in the play ‘Đ oa hoa rừng’ (‘Jungle Flowers’). However, some Western-style songs were especially developed for some Cai Luong plays with social themes such as ‘Hoa duy^en’ (‘Love Bond’) and ‘Tiếng nhạn trong sương’ (‘Swallows’ Calls in the Mist’) by the composer Huỳnh Thủ Trung (or Tư Chơi), and ‘Đ^em mộng Hồ T^ay’ (‘Dream Night by West Lake’) and ‘Hai chiều ly biệt’ (‘Two Farewell Evenings’) by the composer Thu An. Cultural transfer across the country The hybridity in Cai Luong art is reflected in its cultural transfer that occurs not merely across the border from proximal cultures such as Chinese and Japanese cultures and from distant cultures such as French and British cultures, but also within the country of Vietnam. This inland cultural transfer reflects the movement of cultural elements from North Vietnam to South Vietnam with some adaptations to harmonize with the characters and souls of Southerners. From Them’s (2008) standpoint, the inland cultural transfer has occurred with incremental dynamism along three axes: subjective, temporal and spatial. The subjective axis shows that the first subjects of the southward movement were entrepreneurs from Central Vietnam. This can serve as the premise for the assumption that the starting point of the developmental journey of Cai Luong art is Tuong theatre a main theatre form in Central Vietnam, which accompanied the Central entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, the temporal axis exhibits the cultural transformation from closedness to openness, especially after the blending with Western culture. However, along the spatial axis, the

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focus of the dynamism shifted from the North (Thang Long culture) to Central Vietnam (The Imperial City in Huế in Nguyễn Dynasty), then to South Vietnam. Therefore, Cai Luong theatre form, although originating from Tuong theatre, has been open to cultural elements from different regions of Vietnam. This cultural convergence into Cai Luong theatre is reflected through the borrowing of scripts from Cheo theatre form in North Vietnam (e.g. the Cai Luong play ‘Thị Kınh ham oan’ (‘Thị Kınh’s ^ Thị Kınh’ (‘Lady Innocence’) transformed by L^e Van Lưu from the Cheo play ‘Quan Am Buddha Thị Kınh’) (Na 2011), ‘Nang X^e-Đa’ (‘Lady X^e-Đa’) transformed by Thể Ha V^an from the Cheo play ‘Nang Sita’ (‘Lady Sita’), ‘Ngao so ốc hến’ (‘Clam, Ark Clam, Snail, Basket Clam’) by Nguyễn Thanh Ch^au from the Cheo play of the same name), or from Tuong theatre form in Central Vietnam (e.g. from Tuong plays such as ‘San Hậu’ and ‘Phụng Nghi Đınh’). Numerous Cai Luong scripts originate from literary works from North Vietnam such as ‘Lan va Điệp’ (‘Lan and Điệp’), ‘Đoạn Tuyệt’ (‘Farewell to the Past’), ‘B un Lầy Nước Đọng’ (‘Swamp’) and ‘Nat canh hoa rừng’ (‘Fragmented Petals of Jungle Flowers), which were dramatized from the novels Tắt lửa l ong (Putting out the Heart’s Fire), Đoạn Tuyệt (Farewell to the Past), Tắt đ en (When the Light is Out) and Đường rừng (Jungle Trail) by the Northern authors Nguyễn C^ong Hoan, Nhất Linh, Ng^o Tất Tố and Khai Hưng respectively portraying social phenomena in North Vietnam. Nonetheless, when the stories were transformed into Cai Luong scripts, Northern dialects as well as Northern characters were ‘Southernized’. This is displayed in the dialogue between the two protagonists in the Cai Luong play ‘Lan and Điệp’ in which Lan expresses her sadness towards Điệp’s break-up letter due to his pessimism about his future after his failure in the junior high school diploma. Her expression in the novel is more open and direct, typical of Northerners’ characters, as in her direct address form ‘cậu’ (‘you’) to Điệp, whereas her expression in the Cai Luong play is more humble and indirect, typical of Southerners’ characters, illustrated by her indirect address form ‘ai’ (‘who’ meaning ‘you’). Besides its hybridity in terms of theme and language as discussed above, Cai Luong also mirrors music hybridity. Melodies in Cai Luong plays also reflect the adaptations and convergence of music from diverse regions along Vietnam into the characteristic melodies in Mekong Delta culture. Melodies in Cai Luong theatre form are mainly based on three scale systems: ‘Thang ^am Bắc’, ‘Thang ^am Nam’ and ‘Thang ^am Oan’. ‘Thang ^am Bắc’ (‘North’ scale system), as its name divulges, was imported from China, the northern neighbour of Vietnam. ‘Thang ^am Nam’ (‘South’ scale system) was the blending of ‘Thang ^am Bắc’ with Vietnamese folk melodies by Vietnamese composers of ‘nhạc lễ’ (‘festival music’). ‘Thang ^am Bắc’ and ‘Thang ^am Nam’ were two scale systems adopted in songs formerly played in festivals in North Vietnam. Cai Luong melodies have borrowed these two scale systems to express emotions of joy and solemnity respectively in the events of a Cai Luong play. ‘Thang ^am Oan’ (‘sorrow’ scale system) in Cai Luong music, the creation of Southerners, consists of half ‘Thang ^am Nam’ and half ‘Thang ^am Bắc’, reflecting the creative inheritance of the Northern music. The sequence of ‘Thang ^am Nam’ prior to ‘Thang ^am Bắc’ in ‘Thang ^am Oan’ reduces the cheerfulness of ‘Thang ^am Bắc’ and creates a slight trace of sorrow within the solemnity of ‘Thang ^am Nam’, which earns this scale system the name ‘Oan’. In other words, the convergence of the ‘North’ and ‘South’ scale systems created the ‘Sorrow’ scale system as the premise for ‘Tứ Đại Oan’ (‘Four Big Sorrows’) formerly the main song in Cai Luong music (Diep 2012). This trace of sorrow in Cai Luong music partly emanates from the nostalgia of people who left their hometowns in China, or North or Central Vietnam and relocated themselves in a new land in South Vietnam. Nonetheless, it primarily comes from the sorrowful nature of the chamber music of the Hue court, which is deemed the origin of Cai Luong

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Figure 1. Cultural transfer process in Cai Luong art.

music (Dao 2008). Cai Luong music, furthermore, is the confluence of ‘Ly’ songs, a genre of folk songs, from diverse regions. Folk songs from Central Vietnam such as ‘Ly giao duy^en, L y Huế, L y chiều chiều (Huế)’ occasionally appear besides the sentences of Vong Co song in a Cai Luong play. ‘L y’ songs from different areas of the Mekong Delta, such as ‘L y Nam Can’ from Ca Mau province, ‘L y Ba Tri, Ly Cai Mơn’ from Bến Tre province, ‘L y con sao G o C^ ong’ from Tiền Giang province, can gather in a Cai Luong play, producing a varied range of emotions of characters. Melodies of folk songs from Central culture not only contribute to the affluence of Cai Luong music, but also influence poem-reciting and humming styles in Cai Luong art. Besides Southern poem-reciting styles such as ‘Lục V^an Ti^en’ or ‘Kiều tale’ (Na 2011;

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Diep 2012), Hue reciting style from Hue City, Central Vietnam is also used by many Cai Luong actors. An illustrative example of Hue reciting style is Ngọc Giau’s (in the role of Thị Lộ, Nguyễn Tr~ai’s wife) reciting of a poem in response to the love proposal from Nguyễn Tr~ai in their initial encounter in the Cai Luong play ‘Rạng Ngọc C^on Sơn’ (‘Shining Pearls on Con Son Mountain’). Humming styles in Cheo theatre from North Vietnam and Tuong theatre from Central Vietnam are also adopted in Cai Luong music. However, the ‘i’ sound in Cheo humming and the ‘ư’ sound in Tuong humming were shaped into the ‘ơ’ sound in Cai Luong, which is in harmony with the ‘ơ’ sound in ‘Ho Nam bộ’ a distinctive type of musical dialogue typically between boys and girls rowing on the Mekong Delta river or working on the rice fields. The cultural transfer process in Cai Luong art across the border and along the country of Vietnam is illustrated in Figure 1.

Concluding remarks Cai Luong (Renovated Theatre), as its name implies, has undergone dynamic adaptations in its almost 100-year history (Khe 2004) in the face of the increasingly strong penetration of various modern arts, especially music and movies from Western countries as well as Asian creative industries. The dynasty of Cai Luong theatre is currently at its last stage as many observe (e.g. Huy 2011; Diep 2012). Is the audience, especially the young generation, turning away from this Mekong Delta-specific theatre form? The audience will rush to Cai Luong theatres when the scripts contain value-based themes and appealing plots as well as actors’ singing elevates the beauty of sentences of the Vong Co song and folk melodies woven together in Cai Luong art through a long cultural transfer process. The history of Cai Luong used to witness the touching singing of stars such as Thanh Nga, Bạch ^ Hữu Phước and Thanh Sang, who contributed  Bạch Lan, Lệ Thủy, Ut  Tra On, Tuyết, Ut to the golden age of Cai Luong art during the 1960s and 1970s. In the last 30 years, there has been an absence Cai Luong talents during its decline; however, the recent emergence of litte Vong Co singer L^am Quỳnh Như from An Giang province and the young female Cai Luong actor Hồ Ngọc Trinh from Long An province, whose singing has been attracting audiences back to theatres in Mekong Delta and inspiring the famous composer Viễn Ch^au to write new Cai Luong songs for her distinctive voice (Ky 2011), augments our conviction that Cai Luong art remains in the hearts of Vietnamese people. Notwithstanding the lack of suitable venues for Cai Luong from Diamond’s (2012) observation, after UNESCO’s certification of ‘Don ca tai tu’ as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, with the government’s new action plans to sustain ‘Don ca tai tu’ and Cai Luong, Cai Luong may now have new venues, especially in its cradle in the Mekong Delta, to restore and attract new generations of audience.

Notes on contributor Luu Trong Tuan is currently a Business Administration (BA) lecturer at School of Government, University of Economics (UEH), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He received master degree from Victoria University, Australia and PhD degree in management from Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand. His research interests include linguistics, culture, performance management, and ethics. He has published in numerous journals such as Australian Journal of Linguistics, Management Decision, International Journal of Shipping and Transport Logistics, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Knowledge Management Research & Practice, and Service Business.

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