Using bamboo as the main performance material in the circus drama “My village”, young artists draw a romantic picture of rural Vietnam. The show combines several genres of stage art including somersaults, swinging, prestidigitation, pantomime and singing. As this is a new art genre in Vietnam, the circus drama “My village” has impressed both Vietnamese and foreigners.

The show opens with a scene of an early morning in rural Vietnam, in which farmers are preparing their baskets and farm tools to get ready for a new working day. From time to time, one hears the sound of a cock crowing. In the second scene, night falls after a hard day’s work, the mother lies in a hammock with her child singing a lullaby, girls embroider and boys sing songs in praise of their parents’ contributions. These two scenes capture details of the daily lives of people in rural Vietnam- catching snails and crabs, planting in the early morning moonlight, trading at market sessions conducting weddings, and boys and girls singing love duets. Throughout the show, 20 circus artists perform with long and short bamboo sticks.

Bamboo is the main material of the show, participating in the show almost like a character. Dozens of bamboo sticks of various sizes are made into bamboo bridges, houses and rivers on the stage as artists somersault and swing over the sticks. The circus drama takes the audiences on a journey which is sometimes peaceful, sometimes exciting, and always romantic. The show reveals rural Vietnam to foreigners and reminds Vietnamese people of their home village, continually evoking the close relationship between bamboo and people’s lives. Bamboo is a friend and a farm tool to Vietnam’s rural people.

The stage is not colourful and has no laser lights. It is as simple as rural Vietnam and as its name “My village”. The show takes audience members back to their childhood through the sound of flutes, takes them to a bamboo village through the set design, balancing acts, acrobatics, prestidigitation and folk chants from all three regions of Vietnam.

Launched in Vietnam in 2005, in 2009 “My village” began to be performed overseas. Director Tuan Le says that his troupe faced language and culture challenges performing overseas. Foreign audiences said they didn’t fully understand the show but that the show still touched their hearts. Le told us:“This is a special show for both Vietnam and the world because of its content and creativity. The show is not just a circus performance but includes dances and music which are creatively combined with the ordinary tools of people’s daily lives. We had the idea  for this show in 2003 and the first performance debuted in 2005. In 2009, we began to perform abroad and in the last five years we have organized nearly 300 performances in different countries”.

This article originally appeared in Vovworld