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The Palimpsest of Vietnamese Contemporary Spoken Drama

  • CATHERINE DIAMOND

Abstract

Unlike most Southeast Asian theatres, Vietnam has created a sizeable corpus of scripted spoken dramas that continue to be popular in performance with urban audiences. Initially influenced by French classicism and Ibsenist realism, the Vietnamese spoken drama, kich noi, very quickly adapted to local social realities and survives by readily incorporating topical subjects. While keeping abreast of current social issues, the theatre nonetheless makes use of its multi-cultural heritage, and in any given modern performance one can see the layers of influence – traditional Sino-Vietnamese hat boi/tuong; Vietnamese cheo theatre, Cham dance, French realism, Soviet constructivism and socialist realism, and most recently, western performance art. The Vietnamese playwrights, set designers, directors, and actors have combined aspects of the realistic theatre with the conventions of their suppositional traditional theatre to come up with a hybrid that is uniquely Vietnamese. It is argued that these manifold layers should be regarded as a kind of palimpsest rather than just as pastiche.

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The Palimpsest of Vietnamese Contemporary Spoken Drama

  • CATHERINE DIAMOND

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