Complaints of residents motivate Hanoi Theater to reduce performances

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Thang Long Ca Tru Theater, the only place in Hanoi to watch perfomances of  the traditional singing arts of ca tru , will only be open three nights per week after the Tet Holiday, due to complaints from local residents.

Ca tru artist Pham Thi Hue opened the site at 87 Ma May Street last September with the help of two famous ca tru artisans, Nguyen Thi Chuc and Nguyen Phu De, to promote the musical genre to local and international audiences. Ca tru an ancient complex form of sung poetry found in the north of Vietnam using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic.

According to Hue, who was granted the "World Master" title by Korea's World Masters Orienteering Championships last year, since the theater opened, neighbors have been complaining of being tortured nightly by the loud music.

Hue explained a pretext for the rash of complaints, involving a house on Ma May Street damaged in a fire last year, before the ca tru theater opened. The homeowner did not receive permission to have it repaired; meanwhile blaring plaintive chants began emanating from down the street, making the situation all the more irksome.

Other residents said the din is "like funeral-music."

"In order not to negatively affect the community, the theater will no longer provide shows every night, but on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday," said Hue.

Hue was a famous commercial artist before approaching Phu and De to learn ca tru in 2006, releasing Vietnam's first recorded ca tru album last year.

However, Hue said that she and other 20 artists of the theater are not too disappointed about the decreased number of shows because she is working with promotion agencies to book her ca tru show in their tours.


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"It is most difficult when most tour guides do not yet understand or love the genre, even though it was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009 as a part of cultural world heritage in urgent need of preservation," said Hue.

At present, Thang Long Ca Tru Theater offers three one-hour shows every week, featuring different forms of ca tru. Also included is a discussion about the art form and the musical instruments involved; tea is provided. Tickets cost VND200,000.

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