MACBETH in Hanoi – Exploring a European Classic with universal and contemporary methods of performing arts

Project Description


„MACBETH in Hanoi“ – the second collaboration on European literary classics in contemporary stage-adaptions between Max-Reinhardt-Seminar/the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (mdw) and Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema (SKĐA), has been worked out highly professionally through the ASEA-UNINET Project Funding and the Bernd Rode Award.

MACBETH in Hanoi
Performance in Hanoi: 08.12.2022, © Mr. Hoang Duy Linh
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Implementation Period:

10.10.2022 – 13.12.2022


Shakespeare is a miracle: When the project team worked on Romeo & Juliet in Hanoi on behalf of the previous fruitful cooperation between the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna (mdw) and Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema (SKĐA) in 2018, the team – consisting of teachers, organizers, students, colleagues in the Arts – felt the power of a mighty and timeless narration as well as a language, that is so very physical, that it is able to unify Austrian, English and Vietnamese team members – because in the end all is essentially  Shakespearean!

The situations and scenes, the characters and their troubles, challenges, angers, fears and passions are so deeply human, so precisely showing what it means to be a human, mortal being, that everyone – in the Arts and in the audience can quickly and intensely dive into.

The overall question is to find ways to reveal this stunning modernity – and to show that there is no such thing as the right way, but there are professional techniques and methods to unleash the depth, the truth and the freshness of Shakespeare’s plays in very different styles.

With the support of ASEA-UNINET Project Funding as well as the ASEA-UNINET Bernd Rode Award, the team was able to realise the multi-focal performance of Macbeth in Hanoi 2022 – driven by the above principles.

Supported once more by ASEA-UNINET, the team relied on a small, yet powerful, team, investing the award-money in simple but effective stage and costume and contemporary video-artwork.

Very intense preparation and analysis of the text with an experienced dramaturge built the basement. Then two European/American directors showed and taught two very different ways to unfold the drama. The scenes of the murderous couple have been worked out in a very physical style, splitting Lord and Lady Macbeth in three levels of their consciousness. An interpretation that revealed the Freudian structure of the helplessly entangled couple. In addition, a specialist for Vietnamese Traditional Theatre developed a sensual surface for this layer of the play. The warriors – amongst them also a very feministic version of prince Malcolm – followed principles of contemporary psychological acting in two genres: a very filmic, intimate style for the camera and a highly energetic, yet natural contemporary style for the stage. The powers above, the witches and wizards, have been created for film. Music and soundscapes linked stage and film to one fluid performance, embedding also the couples‘ scenes.

The team felt it was a fulfilling adventure to accompany the students‘ growth in terms of being more and more, deeper and deeper able to incorporate those iconic characters, to build a three-dimensional world out of the complex classical text, overcoming any possible cultural boarders by their ambition, their willingness to get better from day to day and to present a professional and absolutely new and fresh Vietnamese version of the famous European play.

Inviting mdw teachers to the Hanoi Academy meets the Academy’s and students‘ need for instruction in contemporary, form-rich theatre art. Traditional theatre forms are still very important in Vietnam. The traditional theatre is highly artful and relies heavily on movement, musicality and aesthetics, such as the famous Vietnamese water puppet theatre. But the students are also pushing for an international market and want to get to know other acting tools. In addition, the university partnership generates mutual enrichment: on the one hand, the mdw teachers are inspired by their Vietnamese colleagues, their approaches, aesthetics and knowledge, and on the other hand, the Asian collegues are interested in the Austrian team’s acting and directing techniques to develop new theatre forms and formats.

The inter-creative linking of live performance, film and sound also enables the Asian partners to develop new approaches to staging which, despite tight budgets, allow for a high degree of aesthetic and narrative opulence. (cf. videolink below) The team consider this an important contribution to the empowerment of professional and highly creative theatre institutions and regions, which have to operate with manageable budgets, but can nevertheless – precisely through the knowledge of appropriate tools and methods – keep up with the contemporary international competition.

The team strongly believes that the story should continue by following the path of intelligent and strengthening international collaborations in the performing arts, presenting the Arts universities not only as bridge builders but also as inventors of innovative intercultural formats.

The next steps could be the transfer of the acclaimed production to professional theatres and festivals, ideally also worked out in the Austrian/Vietnamese team, as the transforming and further developing for big stages and festivals is an artistic process with high challenges in itself, that should be properly taught and professionally accompanied.

The team also plans to develop their work on famous classical texts and narratives of the „European canon“ applying contemporary styles and techniques together with their Vietnamese colleagues for the local but also international theatre scene.

1) MACBETH in Hanoi (Performance)

2) MACBETH in Hanoi (Docu-Trailer)


Project Team:

Univ.- Anna Maria Krassnigg
University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (mdw), Austria

Prof. Dr. Thi Dinh
Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema (SKĐA), Vietnam

Nga Huyen
Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema (SKĐA), Vietnam

Lai Bui Nhu
Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema (SKĐA), Vietnam

Han Tran Thi
Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema (SKĐA), Vietnam

Prof. Beverly Blankenship
University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (mdw), Austria

Mag. Marie-Therese Handle-Pfeiffer, BA
University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (mdw), Austria

Project Details

  • Date Dezember 13, 2022
  • Tags Applied Scientific-Artistic Cooperation, Performing Arts
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