Performing Artists Struggle During Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the life of performing artists in Vietnam even harder. Many have had to take up extra jobs to earn a living like selling food online, shipping goods or selling insurance.
They are in urgent need of State support to be able to stay in their profession.
Hastily wiping the sweat dripping from her forehead, Nguyen Thuy Duong put boxes of fried spring rolls into bags so that her husband, Hoang Duc Thang, could deliver them to customers for dinner.
Looking at the couple engrossed in loading their motorbike with boxes of fried spring rolls, you wouldn’t think they are top artists of the Vietnam Circus Federation and used to shine on world stages with their silk swinging performances.
Before the ongoing fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in Vietnam that started at the end of April, they spent a lot of time training for their busiest time of the year – summer.
The closure of their workplace, Hanoi Central Circus, following national measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 immediately hit their monthly income. The young couple has had to take up an extra job to make ends meet.
According to the urgent dispatch of the Hanoi authority on April 27, all cultural and art programmes had to be postponed to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
A series of performances by theatres were stopped, even though the artists had prepared to entertain audiences during the national holidays of April 30 and May 1.
The Vietnam Circus Federation had to cancel its Circus Gala that gathers artists from provinces and cities nationwide.
Tong Toan Thang, deputy director of the federation, said that he and all other circus artists felt great sadness.
“We overcame a very difficult period in 2020. This year, our artists have been very excited to practise for many new projects such as the performance that combines cải lương (reformed opera) and circus Thượng Thiên Thánh Mẫu, the yearly Circus Gala, the Đi Cùng Năm Tháng show that aims to pay tribute to the heroes and martyrs in July and especially, the special performances to entertain the children this summer holiday.
“But when the pandemic suddenly broke out again, all plans had to stop. We felt like we were trying to get up but then were knocked down again,” he said.
“I felt so sad and wanted to cry when the pandemic broke out again and I believe that circus artists and performing artists, in general, also felt the same way,” Thang said.
He said the sadness came from the artists’ regret of being unable to demonstrate their creativity and training over the past year as well as income worries, particularly for those with small children.
The federation authority has encouraged them to continue training to stay in shape, as their skills could fade after just a fortnight without training.
The federation has supported artists by providing free lunches for those with rehearsal schedules.
This idea was also implemented by the Hanoi Drama Theatre during the pandemic in 2020. Nguyen Trung Hieu, director of the theatre, said he greatly sympathised with the artists.
“Currently, the theatre includes mainly 30 artists, in addition to young ones and those with contemporary contracts. Our artists’ income largely depends on shows so the cancellation of shows means an immediate drop in their income,” he said…
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