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G'LAMS x A Night Of Musicals 2023: Seeker of calm waves – Tragic wars turn love into extraordinary feats

Post by: trangtrang | 17/07/2023 | 179 reads

On July 13, 2023, the musical “Seeker of calm waves” successfully premiered at the Vietnam-Soviet Friendship Palace of Culture and Labour, under the organization of A Night Of Musicals - a musical program under the Youth Union of the Hanoi National University of Economics; and G'LAMS - the annual musical project of the art clubs of Hanoi - Amsterdam High School for the Gifted. The musical is the brainchild of more than 120 Hanoi students who share the same passion for, premiering after 7 months of hard preparation and practice, attracting an audience of nearly 1,000 viewers across the capital.

Following the success of previous seasons, G'LAMS x A Night Of Musicals 2023 with the play “The Seeker of Calm Waves” continued to bring viewers a multitude of emotions through the music and choreography that the student organizers themselves composed, wrote, compiled and performed. This year marked the first time that G'LAMS had chosen the topic of the aftermath of the Vietnam War - a topic that is quite challenging for younger generations to explore, especially when it comes to realistic and profound portrayals of the human conditions.

The program host introducing the musical “Seeker of Calm Waves”

Set in Vietnam in the 80s, “Seeker of Calm Waves” brings the audience to the fishing village of “Cua Toi” - where the lucky survivors of the war are starting new lives. In addition, viewers were allowed a peek into a corner of Hanoi's Kham Thien street in the olden days – a place that has been capturing the love of young ladies for ages.

Head of the Street Committee, Mr. Quyet, who really likes to compose poems praising the beauty of the fishing village

The early market, crowded and bustling

In this small and peaceful fishing village, there are families who dedicate their whole lives to the sea, “eating wind and drinking dew” all year round. One of those families is the couple Hien and Tuan. Disabled after the battle for Quang Tri Citadel and only in possession of a small boar, Tuan chose to indulge in alcohol to forget the gunpowder-filled memories as well as his guilt of not being able to bring happiness to his beloved wife. Hien, on the other hand, possessed an inconsolable grief over her lost family, though she still holds out hope, which compels her to return to Hanoi countless times throughout 14 years in search of a sister named Hoa, to no avail.

Hien and Tuan are both victims of a senseless war

At the same time, in Hanoi, there is a famous painter named Xuan. Once, after accidentally seeing the pictures that Xuan drew of the person he loved, Hien is extremely surprised when the girl looked eerily similar to her sister in her mind. Following the address lines, Hien went to Kham Thien street and the primary school that her sister had taught at, only to hear that the teacher named Hoa no longer taught there.

Hoa is a Hanoi girl, dreaming about a love affair with the painter “Mùa Xuân”, named after the season of Spring

“This profession not only endowed me a duty to teach children how to read, but also to nurture their souls.”

Knowing Hien is the older sister of his lover, Xuan offered to bring Hien to Hanoi with him during Christmas to find her sister since he had arranged to meet Hoa that day. Upon hearing that Hien was about to reunite with her family up North, Tuan is happy for his wife, but plagued with thoughts at the same time. “Is love stepping back to let the person you love get the best life, even if it does not include you, or is love winning someone's heart until the end?”


Tuan's inner torments expressed through a beautifully choreographed dance sequence

But just when we thought nothing could separate the two sisters Hien and Hoa again, tragedy struck. The Christmas scene in the city awakened a sleeping memory in Hien - the American bombing of Kham Thien on that day 14 years prior. The raining of bombs, the smell of blood, and the image of her parents' motionless bodies once again appeared clearly in front of Hien's eyes.

The brutal scene was faithfully recreated, a tearjerker for a lot of viewers

Only then did Hien realize that she had no lost sister. Hoa had been just a fantasy of her own youth, a fictional image she had created herself to soothe the trauma left by the war. As one of the very few survivors of that year's bombing who had been taken to the fishing village, Hoa had remembered nothing, not even her own name. Therefore, Uncle Quyet gave her the name Hien, after gentleness and gaiety, so that she could start a whole new life. It turned out that Xuan was her young love, who had never forgotten his feelings for Hoa.

“You know what Hoa wants, but I know what Hien wants! We shouldn't have illusions about ourselves, Xuan.”

Hoa was deeply hurt by the bitter and ironic truth. She returned to Hanoi and walked around the places she had used to roam. The audience enjoyed another emotional moment when Hoa met her old self, on the days when she was still living happily with her parents in a house on Kham Thien street. In the end, Hoa chose to continue her life by the sea with Tuan, because the Cua Toi fishing village had helped her live a peaceful new life. Everyone wants to find calm waves to settle down—who would want the storms of the rough sea?

The 4 versions of Hoa, representing 4 different times in her life

“I'm you at 21-years of age!”

“You are my wife.”

On the opening day of Xuan's painting exhibition, Thu - Xuan's manager seemingly went crazy and cut all the paintings depicting Hoa. She had been bitter about her fate and her unrequited love that could never bear fruit with Xuan, bitter that she had sacrificed her youth to take care of him. He’d never cared about her, though, even after he was vehemently rejected by Hoa. Perhaps the terrible disturbances in Thu's mind caused the laughing disease that she was inflicted with when she was on the battlefield to return. Thu laughed wildly, then suddenly her smile faded, and then cried like a baby. Tears and laughter mixed, laughter that pierced through the heart.

“Let me rip those pictures apart to see if any of them are of me. I'll only make a small cut, I'll put it back together!"

Five years later, Thu published her autobiography “Seeker of Calm Waves” with her co-authors being Xuan and everyone in the Cua Toi fishing village.

War goes hand in hand with pain, separation, loss and destruction, with blood, tears, violence and destitution. The muzzle of the old gun, once aimed directly at the enemy, is now coldly aimed at the soldiers' minds, revealing psychological wounds that never quite disappear. However, the war also awakened the secretly dormant but passionate love for our homeland, and further beautified existing feelings such as our love for friends and families. “War turns love into nothing but fragments of identities”, but it is also those lonely identities that resiliently rise past the quagmire, for all sadness must eventually end. We do not forget, instead, we learn to accept it, consider those pains a part of ourselves and continue living. Only then can we know that tomorrows will come, so as not to become ungrateful for the lives we are given.

Some other memorable moments at the musical “Seeker of Calm Waves”

Organizers of G’LAMS x A Night of Musicals 2023: Seeker of Calm Waves

Each character and piece of life in “Seeker of Calm Waves” evokes deep emotions and reflections on a different war that every person in the post-war period had to face, even after bombs and bullets had fallen: struggling with the contradictions in one's own soul-searching journey - the journey to find one's own identity and get rid of the remnants of the past. Each of us must ride through years of “tough waves” to find our own “calm waves”. It can be said that G'LAMS x A Night of Musicals has excellently conveyed those meaningful messages to the audience through a meticulously constructed script and a well-organized stage production, from the decisive dance moves of the dancers to the soulful vocals of the singers, to the excellent acting from the actors. Perhaps the clearest proof of the students' talents is the great success of the musical “Seeker of Calm Waves”.

Translator: Phan Khánh An - English 1 2225

Images: Provided by the OC of G’LAMS x MBNK 2023

Tags: G'LAMS