Meritorious Artist Thành Lộc at Sắc Màu Sân Khấu (Colours of Cải Lương), a photo exhibition featuring cải lương (reformed opera) and its performers can be seen at the HCM City Theatre Association. — Photo courtesy of the organiser

HCM CITY — A photo exhibition featuring the art of cải lương (reformed opera) and its performers has opened at the HCM City Theatre Association.

The Sắc Màu Sân Khấu (Colours of Cải Lương) exhibition displays 100 photos capturing the performances of cải lương artists and their daily life. The pictures come from the collections of members of the city’s Club of Lifestyle Journalists. 

Some of the works were shot by Huỳnh Công Minh, a veteran photojournalist who specialised in cải lương, a traditional genre of southern theatre which first appeared in the Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta about 100 years ago.

Minh has taken thousands of photos of about 550 cải lương dramas staged between 1954 and 1968. Featured works depict late talented performers Phùng Há, Bảy Nam and Út Trà Ôn, who were famous in Sài gòn (now HCM City) in the 1930s and 40s and recognised as gurus of the art.

Photos at Sắc Màu Cải Lương are juxtaposed with captions and articles by reporters and composers who were close to the artists, celebrating their talent and commitment to the art.

“The event’s photos are colourful and detailed, evoking memories of the golden time of cải lương theatre, focusing on the artists’ costumes, make-up, stage design and beautiful moves,” said Trần Bảo Thắng, a resident of Bình Dương Province who visited the event’s opening day last weekend.

According to People’s Artist Kim Cương, through Sắc Màu Sân Khấu, visitors can see more clearly the hard work of cải lương performers and appreciate the need to preserve live theatre. 

Cương visited the event to see the photos capturing her mother and teacher, People’s Artist Bảy Nam, head of Đại Phước Cương Troupe, one of the region’s leading cải lương troupes in the 1930s.

Cương began her professional career when she was 17. She became a star after performing with cải lương gurus such as  Há and Năm Phỉ, students of her mother, People’s Artist Bảy Nam.

In the 1960s, she opened the Kim Cương Drama Troupe, managing a staff of 70. Her troupe offered dozens of quality plays written by Cương on topics such as love, family and social issues. 

Cương played leading roles in several hundred cải lương plays, dramas, TV shows and movies.

The event will close on June 30 at 5 Võ Văn Tần Street in District 3. — VNS