Algerian Playwright’s Work on President Ho Chi Minh Staged in Vietnam

The Vietnam National Drama Theatre (VNDT) on February 15 began production on the play “Nguoi di dep cao su” (The Man in the Rubber Sandals) by Algerian playwright Kateb Yacine.

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Algerian Playwright’s Work on President Ho Chi Minh Staged in Vietnam
Algerian Ambassador to Vietnam Boubazine Abdelhamid speaks at the event. Photo: icd.gov.vn

With the support of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s Department of International Cooperation, Algerian Ambassador to Vietnam Mohamed Berrah visited and held a working session with the VNDT in April 2021, during which he presented the poetic drama “The Man in the Rubber Sandals” to the VNDT. He said he wished for collaboration to produce the play celebrating the 60th anniversary of Vietnam-Algeria diplomatic ties.

Yacine (1929-89) was one of the most popular writers in Algeria. He arrived in Vietnam in 1967, and what he saw and heard about President Ho Chi Minh and the struggle for national liberation prompted him to learn about the history, people, and beloved leader of the country. His love and respect for the Vietnamese people and Ho Chi Minh inspired his creativity. From that, the poetic play “The Man in the Rubber Sandals ” was born. The play was successfully staged and performed around the world in the early 1970s but has never been staged in Vietnam, cited VNA.

The work consists of eight parts with about 150 characters with lines, spanning the chronological order of Vietnam’s history, from the Hai Ba Trung Uprising (40 – 43 AD) through various periods of national protection struggle and President Ho Chi Minh’s death in 1969. Interwoven into this main thread are dramatic events taking place in countries such as France, the US, China, and many others around the world.

VNDT Director, Meritorious Artist Xuan Bac, who directs the work, said the play is not only a poetic piece that praises the image of President Ho Chi Minh. It stands as an epic offering that vividly depicts the country and people of Vietnam throughout different historical periods. It extols the spirit of resolute and heroic struggle to protect and maintain independence in the past, at present and in the future.

Algerian Playwright’s Work on President Ho Chi Minh Staged in Vietnam
Photo: baovanhoa

“After the independence of Algeria, Yacine demonstrated his universal struggle through a three-year stay in Vietnam from 1967 to 1970,” said Algerian ambassador to Vietnam Boubazine Abdelhamid.

“This stay in Vietnam is essential for his conception of the struggle of nationalities within an anti-colonial revolution.”

The script was edited and shorted by Le Manh Hung, Ph.D. in Art, who is also one of the play’s directors.

“Directing and performing the play is a big challenge,” Hung said. “I thought a lot before agreeing to direct the drama. I respect Yacine’s sentiment toward Vietnamese people.

I edited the script to highlight Yacine’s view on the Vietnamese struggle to gain national independence.”

Hung was invited to join the project by the theatre’s director Xuan Bac.

“I have never worked with such a long drama,” said the director and established actor. “We are eager but overwhelmed by the play. Generally, it is not only a work to focus on President Ho Chi Minh but also an epic depicting the Vietnamese country and people through historical periods.”

Veteran artists, including Trinh Mai Nguyen, Hoang Lam Tung, and Khuat Quynh Hoa, will perform the drama. Le Quang Dao and Nguyen Minh Hai play President Ho in different stages of his life, VNS reported.

Dao recently also had success with the role of President Ho in a series of short plays in the theatre, while Hai looks much like the late president, and is from the central province of Nghe An, the native land of the president.

The production is one of a series to celebrate the 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Algeria (1962-2022).

The Man in Rubber Sandalsis in a national tour performance scheduled for the theatre. It is expected to perform in Algeria, according to the theatre director Xuan Bac.

Rosie Nguyen