The National Circus Theater in Hanoi was well-attended, with around 1,000 seats filled for each of its three final performances in December for the national magic festival.
The artists were happy that the demand for circus acts has remained high, yet they had to admit how desperate they were to please the audiences, and once again realized how much more investment the art form needs.
Magicians from Hanoi, Hai Phong, Ho Chi Minh City, the central province of Quang Tri, and the southern provinces of Vung Tau and Tien Giang, have been performing with whatever simple tools they have access to, Tuoi Tre reported.
The applause for animal and clown acts were louder than those for their 13 acts, mostly familiar ones such as giving the illusion of producing birds or roses out of thin air, changing clothes and either making people disappear, or cutting them into parts.
A few acts that were linked together to form a story received more interest from the audience, which according to the artists, reflects a recent global trend within the magic industry.
One of those acts was conceived by magicians from Hai Phong, telling the life story of a soldier posted on an island.
The magicians, dressed in navy costumes, also performed simple acts such as making things appear out of thin air, like vegetables, fresh water, a guitar, and girls, but the way they were combined into a story made these old tricks fresh to audiences.
"I really like the act. It makes magic emotional," Tuoi Tre quoted an audience named Thu Hang, as saying.
Captain Quang Hop, the author of the act, said it was inspired by his visit to the Truong Sa Islands off Khanh Hoa Province in south central Vietnam.
He said his troupe decided to approach the festival as a game, citing the need to play beautifully, and did their best to infuse their acts with spirit.
The troupe intended to include more narrative acts, but the money contributed by the 20 members could not pay for that, he said.
"Hai Phong does not have a state agency to represent circus artists. Our club has been funded by members' money for the past three years since being established.
"We've made up our minds that any fun costs money. The reward for us is to show people some magic," Hop said.
Other magic troupes in Vietnam also have to fund themselves.
The difficulty has prevented them from fulfilling their creative potential, and often pushes them out of the business as people will not pay money to see familiar acts over again, the artists said in the report.
Doan Minh Quang, a sole magician from Tien Giang at the festival, said he loves magic and would not quit. But he said he has had to take breaks now and then to do other jobs in order to earn enough money to return to his passion.
He is teaching magic to 30 students, but did not feel confidence that they would take up the art form as a profession.
Le Tien Tho, chairman of Vietnam Stage Artists Association, said magic in Vietnam has never received much attention, in terms of either training or venues.
Many artists at the festival said it's hard for them to perform on the round stage of the theater, which has them encircled by the audience.
Tho said he would suggest to the culture ministry that it set up a development plan for the art over the next 20 years or so.
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