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Japanese director lets Vietnamese cast emulate their own emotions



Lê Hương & Hồng Vân

They gather in a spacious room, full of light. Each holds a script, losing themselves the roles they are assigned. Sometimes they read out the dialogue straight off the script, as no one has learned it by heart yet.

From time to time, he stops them to remind or give remarks on their acting.

This has been the usual sight in a rehearsal room of the Youth Theatre in downtown Hà Nội in the past few weeks, as Japanese director Tsuyoshi Sugiyama leads the outstanding Hedda Gabler play by noted Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen with the theatre’s artists.

“We are in the ice-breaking period when the actors start to learn the dialogue and try to understand the characters,” director Sugiyama told Việt Nam News.

“I was very worried at first when being asked to stage the play with the theatre’s actors,” he said. “The play was written 130 years ago by a Norwegian writer. How I can inspire people between 20-40 years old to share the same feelings with the characters? Then I spoke with the actors and found out that they have the same problems in modern Vietnamese society. I was relieved as the play mentions present problems as well.”

Tsuyoshi Sugiyama explains the roles to his cast. — VNS Photo Lê Hương

The director worked with the artists in Uncle Vanya, another play by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), a few years ago. The performance won the Best Play Award at the International Theatre Festival in Việt Nam 2019.

“The story of Hedda Gabler is very simple but has a deeper level of feelings in comparison with Uncle Vanya story,” he noted. “Last time I had to explain what the writer meant in Uncle Vanya. This story is much simpler to understand but not as easy to express the feelings of characters.”

In this first stage, the director lets the actors free to act. He has not guided them on how they should act, or what props to use.

“I let them act as what they feel about the characters. It’s like going in a circle, but it will be quicker if, in the last stage, I figure out how they should act the roles,” he said. “Then it will be very quick as they have grown deep emotions of the characters.”

Youth Theatre stars rehearse Hedda Gabler. — VNS Photo Lê Hương

Sugiyama said they will certainly find a way to decorate the stage both beautifully and exactly to the script, to stimulate the audience’s creativeness.

Love for Việt Nam

Sugiyama commented that artists in the Youth Theatre have many features to describe.

“All of them are suitable for the career,” he remarked. “Sometimes I feel that they are like children, with no limitation. They can think and feel the characters in many ways and can express the roles in various ways, too.”

Sugiyama said he highly appreciates the diligent research of the artists.

“They introduce their own explanations for the characters, for the plays. Their explanations get more and more profound. I strongly believe that with their efforts, the play will succeed,” he said.

Sugiyama wants to make more contributions to Vietnamese theatre. — VNS Photo Lê Hương

The director has been to Việt Nam many times, the longest time being three months long.

“I want to stay to work in Việt Nam even longer this time,” he said. “The food here is so good. I like the hot weather.”

“Vietnamese people are agile and straightforward,” he remarked. “They will speak out if they do not feel ok about something. They are also open and caring of others.”

Sugiyama said he wants to continue to learn about the goodness and even the bad things of Việt Nam.

He said he likes the Old Quarter with its houses with an ancient culture, though the area is sometimes full of tourists.

“I like strolling in the quiet old streets. I also like parks with many trees and lakes, which bring me peace and tranquillity.”

The director said he wants to travel around the country to Sa Pa with various ethnic minority groups and coastal cities like Huế and Đà Nẵng.

“I like vermicelli with fish, phở, nem and coffee. Local coffee is rather strong but we don’t have that in Japan so it attracts me. I will use up my time to explore more delicacies that I haven’t tried.”

Actress Đinh Thu Thủy, who plays the leading role of Hedda Gabler in the play, said she and her colleagues are quite comfortable working with the director.

“I strongly believe that we will succeed as he guided us last time in Uncle Vanya and we won the best play award,” she said. “We are working in a close group together to find out the best ways to express the characters’ feelings. The director then will find out his own way to bring Asian features to the Norwegian play.”

Thủy said her role is quite hard, which requires working with other artists in other roles in the play.

“When taking this role, I know that I needed more knowledge. I should be more creative, acting with greater care to make an interesting Hedda Gabler with the special marks of the Youth Theatre,” she said.

Sugiyama is really enjoying spending more time in Việt Nam. —VNS Photo Lê Hương

Norwegian ambassador to Việt Nam Grete Lochen highlighted that Henrik Ibsen’s themes are still relevant and universal; it’s not just about Norway but more importantly the dimensions between modernity and traditions.

“His messages work equally well today as a hundred years ago,” she said.

Although Việt Nam and Norway are far apart, we all know that culture brings people together and has a common language, she said.

“I think this will be an exciting event both for Norway and Việt Nam and it also had an element of Japan as the director is a Japanese director. I’m excited to see how the Japanese director will together with Vietnamese actors interpret Hedda Gabler…” she said.

Now Sugiyama creates theatre works mainly in Tokyo, Japan. He participates with his company in domestic and international theatre festivals and does theatre workshops in Asian countries as “the education programme for communication through theatre play” for local children, under the support of the Japan Foundation.

Meritorious Artist Nguyễn Sĩ Tiến, director of the Youth Theatre, admits that Sygiyama has a special love for Vietnamese theatre.

“He has many plans to work longer here and make more contributions to Vietnamese theatre,” Tiến said. “For this play, he has many expectations, too. He hopes to win Vietnamese audience’s hearts with this play and wants to bring it to international festivals.” VNS



National squad must ‘continue to improve’ despite recent success



Coach Park believes the national side still needs to improve before the AFF Cup 2022. VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Linh 

HCM CITY — Despite victories against Singapore and India in the friendly international tournament, head coach Park Hang Seo believes there is still much room for improvement in the national side, especially if they are to make a mark at the AFF Cup 2022 in December.

On Tuesday, Việt Nam beat India 3-0 in the final game of the international friendly tournament at Thống Nhất Stadium, HCM City, finishing the tournament as champions.

The win means that Việt Nam beat every opponent in the tournament without conceding a goal. 

Unlike the previous match against Singapore, coach Park fielded his strongest squad against India. 

The South Korean coach made ten changes to the starting lineup, with Quang Hải, Công Phượnng, and Văn Đức, Văn Hậu all starting. 

“I wanted to take advantage of this friendly tournament to give new players an opportunity to play while improving the whole team’s tactics,” coach Park said after the game. 

“But, against India today, I wanted to evaluate the quality of the core players in the squad. That’s why I made those changes. 

“The players played well in both matches but I still need more time to adjust, and check for more options. There is still a long way to go until the AFF Cup, so the team must continue to improve until then.”

In the match against India, the home team took control from the kickoff, pressing the Indian side back.

In the 10th minute, from a Công Phượng corner kick, India’s goalkeeper Sandhu punched the ball straight towards Văn Đức in the penalty area.

The striker took the ball on the volley to open the scoring for the hosts. Settled, Việt Nam played more controlled and patient play.

In the last minutes of the first half, the visitors had opportunities to equalise, but goalkeeper Văn Lâm and the defenders kept them at bay.

In the second half, Văn Toàn replaced Công Phượng, and it took just four minutes for Toàn to have an impact.  

Toàn’s speed helped him take advantage of Anwar Ali’s mistake in his own half. Stealing the ball, he went one-on-one with Sandhu and neatly slipped the ball past him and into the gaping goal, his first goal for the national side since a game against Afghanistan in the Asian Cup qualifying round in March 2017. 

In the 72nd minute, Bùi Hoàng Việt Anh crossed the ball from the right wing. Văn Quyết took two touches, one to control the other and the other to fire it into the back of the net. 

The hosts finished the tournament with seven goals scored, and three conceded. VNS 


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Speed skaters win golds in first int’l event



Speed Skating

The Vietnamese team poses for photos after the end of the Indonesian National Speed Skating Championship which closed on September 22. Việt Nam won five golds, four silvers and two bronzes. — Photo of VSF

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam won five gold medals after being invited to compete at the Indonesian National Speed Skating Championship, which closed on September 22.

Giang Bảo Anh was the most successful athlete, winning a hattrick of titles in the women’s F Group’s 222m, 333m and 500m categories.

Nguyễn Phi Long secured a gold in the men’s junior Group C 500m class and two silvers in the 1000m and 1500m tracks.

Lê Hữu Dũng pocketed his title in the men’s senior 1500m and two bronzes in the 500m and 1000m. 

Another medalist of Việt Nam was Nguyễn Võ Hữu Vinh with two silvers in the men’s senior 1000m and 1500m.

Giang Bảo Trang, who was expected to be in top three in three classes in the women’s junior Group E, unexpectedly suffered a leg injury during her training prior to the competition. She was sidelined.

In addition to their medals, athletes also collected points for the next Winter Olympics. With a gold, they bagged 34 points, and 21 and 13 for silver and bronze, respectively.

The Indonesian championship was the first ever international tournament that a Vietnamese delegation took part in.

According to Trịnh Thị Trang, general secretary of the Việt Nam Skating Federation (VSF), Indonesia invited athletes from other countries to its championship to improve the quality of the tournament and also to give all competitors chances to sharpen their skills.

Việt Nam sent five athletes to Indonesia. It was their first event abroad and their result was much better than expected, she said. — VNS


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Liêm through to Julius Baer Generation Cup’s semi-final




GM Lê Quang Liêm sails into the semis of the Julius Baer Generation Cup on September 22. — Photo đ

HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese Grandmaster (GM) Lê Quang Liêm advanced to the semi-finals of the online Julius Baer Generation Cup on September 22.

Liêm knocked 19-year-old phenomenon Hans Niemann of the US out after four rapid chess matches in the quarter-final round.

A former world blitz chess champion, Liêm grabbed two wins, one draw and one loss against Niemann, who recently won twice over world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen.

It is his third time beating the American GM Niemann. Liêm overcame him in the group round match several days ago and at the FTX Crypto Cup last month.

Lê Quang Liêm of Việt Nam (left) seen during the online Julius Baer Generation Cup’s quarter-final match against Hans Niemann of the US on September 22. — Photo

With this result, Liêm proved he belonged in the top four in competitions, including the Charity Cup (No. 4), Oslo Esports Cup (No. 2), Prague Masters (No. 2), Biel Chess International (champion) and FTX Crypto Cup (No. 4), that he has taken part in since March. 

In the semi-final, 31-year-old Liêm will face Indian GM Arjun Erigaisi. The national champion beat Christopher Yoo of the US in the tie-break after their matches ended 2-2.

Erigaisi, 19, defeated Liêm in the group round earlier this week.

In the other semis, GM Carlsen of Norway will play GM Vincent Keymer from Germany. — VNS


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