Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Travel Photographer's Hát Tuồng

© Tewfic El-Sawy (click to enlarge image)

One of the cultural highlights during my Viet Photo Expedition-Workshop was the Hát Tuồng performance we attended at the Vietnam National Tuồng Theatre in Hanoi.

The Hát Tuồng theatre came from China in the 13th Century when Vietnam was warring against the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. It's said that a famous actor named was imprisoned by the Vietnamese, and the imperial court asked him to spread his knowledge of Chinese theatre to the children of the elite, thus its origins were in the royal court. It was subsequently adapted to travelling troupes who entertained commoners and farmers.

Regrettably, there were only 12 or 13 spectators during the hour-long performance, out of which 10 were the photographers in my expedition-workshop. It's rather sad that Hát Tuồng, which is certainly an important part of Vietnam's rich cultural heritage, is not more popular amongst the Vietnamese themselves, as well as tourists. The performers are all proud professionals, and I believe are employed by the state which wants to retain this culture alive. That said, its music is somewhat of an acquired taste.

In any event, I had a ball photographing some of the troupe members using my Fuji X Pro-1/Fujinon 18mm f2.0 whose low-light capabilities are really astounding.

All the photographs were made without flash, at f2.0 and the iso set at 3200.

The rest of the photographs are on my Hat Tuong Backstage gallery.

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