Royal Theater (Duyet Thi Duong)
Location: Royal Theater is located in the
east of the Quang Minh Palace (Palace of Brightness) in the Forbidden Citadel.
Characteristics: The Royal Theater was the oldest of Vietnamese traditional stage that remained. It was closed after the end of the monarchy (Jan 8th, 1945).
During the U.S temporary occupation it was used by the South Government for the Hue Music College (present-day Hue Art University). The Royal Theater was built by Emperor Minh Mang in 1826. It was large, rectangular-shaped with curved eaves, similar to those of Hue pagodas and communal houses, supported by two rows of iron-wood, red lacquered columns decorated with intertwined dragon and cloud designs. On each column hung a painting of Hue scenery in a golden frame, carved with dragon designs. The sky-blue ceiling above was painted with figures of sun, moon and stars, symbolizing the universe. The building was connected with the royal living quarters by snaky roofed galleries. A square-shaped stage occupied the central part of the floor. No decoration was used to distinguish the real world from the theatrical one. Behind the stage were two doors. Actors and actresses made their entrances from the right-side and exited on the left. Behind the wall was a large room for storing scripts, theatrical headgear, footwear and props. The highest position of this room was occupied by an altar dedicated to two founders of the court opera theater. The room opened onto the court east of the Forbidden Citadel (this entrance was used by actors and actresses). Across the stage was a high tower of two levels. The top level, next to the western wall, was reserved to the queen, concubines and maidservants. On the ground level was a carved chair for the Emperor. These two levels were kept separated by a bamboo blind which offered the spectators a good view of the outside, preventing them from being seen. Only the fluttering sounds made by fans, such as birds’ wings, or giggles could sometimes be heard. On both sides of the Emperor's carved chair were other chairs for State guests. There sat the Governor General and the Superior Resident sometimes during the French occupation.
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