For Ho Chi Minh City coffee shops, serving just food and beverages is almost passé – the latest trend is to offer books, chess boards, and even theatrical performances.
Bet Cafe at 57A Tu Xuong Street, District 3, staged the first play three years ago and now at least five cafes do it though only two of them, Bet and Lit, advertise publicly and have a license.
The actors are usually amateurs or theater arts students who are yet it to make big stage, the owner of Bet Café, Thien Kiem, said.
“It took me a year of preparations and two more for trials to bring a drama stage inside a coffee shop,” she recalled. “I faced innumerable difficulties.”
Many of her friends considered it odd, she said.
The first obstacle was getting a license from the city Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
“My group of young performers and I were patient,” she told Tuoi Tre.
Under the law, all performances and drama scripts must get approval from local authorities before being staged.
Initially, Bet Café staged plays once a week before making it thrice a week on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Some show draw an audience of up to 100 visitors who enjoy food and drinks alongside the show.
“I like watching plays here as they are very realistic without props, lights, or special effects,” a customer said.
Some plays have become favorites at Bet Café — Tinh Song Tinh Chet (Love Alive, Love Dead), Doan Tuyet(Breaking), and Sau Mot Con Dong (Aftermath of a Storm).
Kim said the café has a target of staging a new play every month.
At Lit Café, 3/13 Thich Quang Duc Street, Phu Nhuan District, plays are staged every Wednesday and Thursday.
At both places, visitors can also exchange ideas and talk to performers.
Theater cafes are becoming a place for young performers to test their skills while also earning a livelihood.
NNCK is a typical group. Hoang Minh Phi and Nhu Thao set it up out of their love for theater after failing to complete theater school. By Minh Trang of Tuoitrenews