31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
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Lai Tan - Ngan Ha 20:52, 2022/05/03
Director of Vietnam Opera and Ballet Theater Tran Ly Ly is General Director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 31st SEA Games held in Hanoi in May.

Tran Ly Ly, General Director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 31st SEA Games, spoke with The Hanoi Times about preparations for such an important event. 

 General Director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 31st SEA Games Tran Ly Ly. Photos: Ngoc Tu
The opening ceremony of the 31st SEA Games is an important event, kicking off the region’s largest chain of cultural and sports activities in Vietnam. How did you feel when accepting the invitation to be the General Director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 31st SEA Games?

I received the role under an urgent assignment, only 45 days before the opening ceremony. For me, this is an honor but a great pressure when accepting the invitation to be the general director of a national and regional event.

The pressure is how to implement this task successfully, and fulfill the assigned responsibilities. It is an honor because not everyone is entrusted with this responsibility, in such a special situation as our country has just controlled the Covid-19 pandemic.

Being an experienced director who has designed many big scripts and performance shows, could you tell our readers about the organization of the 31st SEA Games? What is it different from previous ones?

This is a big program containing a huge amount of work. I am running ten teams for such an important event.

To build the program for the 31st SEA Games’ opening ceremony, first of all, there must be a literary script approved by relevant authority levels. After that, I had to imagine how it would be worked out to achieve the festival’s criteria that will show Vietnam's position in the general flow of the region.

To realize this, our team discussed and agreed that the ceremony will manifest Vietnam – a friendly, attractive, open, and lovely country - welcomes friends from all over the world, taking its own to integrate into the general flow of the region, overcome the pandemic and continue to be stronger.

 Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, in the middle, and officials on a supervision visit to My Dinh National Stadium. 
In such a short time for preparation, how have you organized and arranged practices to ensure quality and progress as well?

Preparation for the 31st SEA Games is urgent in meeting the deadline because Vietnam has just stridden over the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides, the Government wants to realize the organization of the SEA Games as a hallmark of a new normal living.

We understand that such a short time has its own reason, therefore the entire team has exerted its best efforts in the preparation work to achieve the highest efficiency.

It’s reported that the opening ceremony will be organized with many modern technologies. To apply and incorporate technology into the 7,000 square meter stage at My Dinh National Stadium, did your team face any difficulties?

The opening ceremony of the 31st SEA Games is equivalent to a grand ceremony in the square, along with the repertoire, we will take advantage of the Mapping [a projection technology used to turn objects, often irregularly shaped, into display surfaces for video projection], Augmented Reality (AR), and Extended Reality (EX). Those are the most advanced technologies available today.

Such advanced technologies have been chosen because one of the program script’s goals is to show Vietnamese wisdom and the country’s development of technology. However, difficulty was that it was uneasy to find a local technology company that has enough projectors used on the 7,000 m2 of My Dinh National Stadium.

In fact, there are many companies and individuals having projectors but not the same types. That I not to mention the paperwork, solving problems, and equipping lighting systems to match projection mapping.

The organization and implementation of the opening ceremony with a huge amount of work have been done in such a short time – it’s unbelievable. Normally, the arrangement of a ceremony as big as this one would take place from six months to one year to ensure the best conditions, but we have been doing it in less than two months thanks to the participation of about 1,000 people.

How can you gather and run 10 teams with 1,000 people to meet the opening program?

After the script was approved, I set up a team consisting of people who are talented, confident, strong, and brave to carry out this task. I see that there are many talented artists in Vietnam, but not everyone can meet the opening ceremony’s requirements.

I invited composer Bui Huy Tuan, who wrote the song for the 31st SEA Games “Let's shine”, to be the music director of the program. I believe this is the right choice because Tuan has enough talent, skill, and agility to meet the schedule within 15 days. All works have been carried out in a phased manner because I need music to stage every performance.

I also invited People's Artist Kieu Le and People's Artist Hong Phong to be dance directors. They managed 30 choreographers to develop detailed musical scripts. They then worked with 1,000 people to complete their assigned works.  All must be done at the same time.

Could you reveal some impressive highlights of the opening ceremony?

We want to bring Vietnamese culture into the flow of Southeast Asia. Vietnamese culture is expressed as the spirit of wet rice, and represented by the image of Vietnamese bamboo. The first performance showed the intense vitality, solidarity, community, strength, resilience, and indomitable spirit... of Vietnamese bamboo trees.

Then there is the symbol of the lotus flower, symbolizing purity and tolerance. The lotus is also considered the flower that represents the best of the Vietnamese people. We also include the image of Dong Ho folk painting.

All 40 sports of the 31st SEA Games were presented in the form of Mapping projection.

 Dancers practice at the stadium. 

Eleven Southeast Asian countries have many things in common but Vietnam still affirms its own position, so how can the team balance between traditional and modern elements in the repertoire?

This is a good question because it is something that makes my team and I have to spend a lot of time thinking. How can we get the cultural identity of Vietnam, the spirit of Vietnam, but still integrate into the international region?

So it could still be conical hats and ao dai [Vietnam’s traditional long dress], but we use hats with different patterns and apply various lighting systems to create highlights - all are different but still similar to other regional countries.

The image of bamboo and rice is familiar to Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. To realize it, we have to understand what the traditional nature behind that symbolic value is? It is solidarity, resilience, intensity, and longevity. Sharing the same flow is the spirit of 11 countries rowing to the sea.

A solo lotus dance performed by renowned dancer Linh Nga is expected to be a highlight of the program, meanwhile, artists Bui Cong Duy and Le Giang will participate in an item named “Road to Vietnam”, with the performance of dancers wearing conical hats and traditional long dress creating a friendly road to the country.

The opening ceremony of a festival often tells a lot of history, is the opening program of the 31st SEA Games like that?

I think art is symbolic and evocative. The script must be logical but not imperative to present Vietnamese history.

I want to show the Vietnamese people's charm, friendliness, and the beauty of the Vietnamese human spirit… And our strength to go together with other countries to overcome the pandemic, moving towards a brighter future. Not necessarily in an epic way.

Finally, it will be a performance I am quite touched, with the image of 11 boats, each representing a Southeast Asian country heading to the sea.

The ceremony will run for 120 minutes.

Thank you for your time.

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