Friday, December 02, 2005

Day 3; continued...


I was able to attend a folk performance at the Opera House, just off the street of Dong Khoi. I actually visited the ticket booth three times to purchase a ticket--as it was evident on the program easel there would be an event at 20:00pm. But each time the gentleman was confused at my request and tried to politely turn me down. Resisting his temptation to see me react as the usual white foreigner, I remained calm and composed, using gentle hand gestures---but all were in the negative. After the three attempts, it was about 7:55pm and I was at the doorway---a lady who was at the ticket desk was flattered at my persistence and just whisked a used ticket stub and gave it to me---and I was on my way! I was determined to see as much of the culture from Vietnamese eyes as possible. As it turned out, this was some sort of high budget (top-quality lighting system and respectable set design) school-age production. Now I know why I couldn't get a ticket---it was for the families and friends of the students only.

I was impressed. No offense to my readers who beckon from Southern Oregon, but its rather easy to supersede the high school auditorium in Central Point....The performance was visually interesting, but naturally the language barrier and a lack of knowledge in Vietnamese folklore made me a bit lost. The jetlag, combined with the day's amount of schlepping made it seem all the same after a good 15 minutes. But I took the time to really listen to the music and the singing---there was a similarity in the tones and notes---probably due to the 5-point system that is applied in most Asian musical arts. I wish I could answer this question with more technical knowledge, but there was a sense of uniform melody within a shorter range of notes.

Yes, my batteries needed replacing by the end of the show, but it was interesting to see where the emphasis was placed in terms of movement, character interactions, use of stage and lighting. The gestalt seemed to be a compendium of traditional components (movement, interaction, etc) that have been practiced in a similar way unchanged over time. For example, my high school's play was done in a 50's rendition of Shakespeare's "A MidSummer Night's Dream"---they would have done the same play, but in a way that stayed true to the original conception---not as a modern adaptation.

I was entertained by the painfully long lighting faux pas that kept me awake---but then as soon it was over, I was back at the hotel to rest for the huge bike expedition that lay ahead....

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