VietNamNet Bridge – A cai luong (renovated theatre) play dedicated to the King-Monk Tran Nhan Tong – founder of Vietnamese Zen Buddhism – is expected to debut in the 11th lunar month, December, this year.
Entitled Vua Phat (Buddhist King), the play commemorates the 707th anniversary of his attainment of Nirvana.
The play will be staged by students at the Ha Noi college of cinematography and theatre, members of the Kham Pha dance troupe and monk students of the Viet Nam Buddhism academy.
The Buddhist King is about the life of Tran Nhan Tong (1258-1308), the third king of the Tran dynasty.
As a little boy, the then prince showed outstanding intelligence and had a thorough knowledge of Buddhism.
In 1274, when he was 16, he was given the title of crown prince by his father, King Tran Thanh Tong. Five years later, he came to the throne. During his 15-year reign, from 1279 to 1294, he defeated Mongol invaders twice. Despite the demands of ruling, the king still had time for Buddhism.
After his abdication in 1299, the former king left his palace to become a monk, spending the rest of his life on the Yen Tu Mountain (Quang Ninh province) practising and spreading Buddhism. He founded the Truc Lam School of Zen and worked to unify different Vietnamese Buddhism sects into Vietnamese Zen Buddhism.
Scriptwriter Bui Huu Duoc, who has spent decades learning about Buddhism, wrote the script for the Buddhist King. The play will be directed by the Meritorious Artist Trieu Trung Kien.
According to the acting director of the Viet Nam Cai Luong Theatre, Nguyen Xuan Vinh, all the play’s leading roles will be played by young artists from his theatre.
“All of them are aware of the important role of King Tran Nhan Tong in the country’s history and the development of Vietnamese Zen Buddhism. Together with the production team, the artists will try their best to depict truly and vividly this historical figure,” he said.
Vinh also said the play has been produced through non-State capital and other fundraising sources.
Most Venerable Thich Duc Thien, General Secretary of Buddhist Sangha of Viet Nam said he believes that the play will present truthfully the King-Monk.
“It takes hard work and intelligence to stage such a meaningful play, which recounts the country’s history in general and Vietnamese Buddhism’s history in particular. I’m sure the audience will enjoy the play,” he said.
The play is scheduled to begin rehearsals at the end of this month before its debut in December. It then will be performed widely in Buddhist centres across the country.