“Lão” is a term to describe male characters (kép) that are elderly.

(Đọc phiên bản tiếng Việt tại đây)

“Lão” is a term to describe male characters (kép) that are elderly. With their brows and hair are white and gray; unhurried in movements; and a raspy singing-dialogue delivery. Additionally, there are also different techniques to portray their raspy voice delivery that can be categorised as follow:


Include full characteristics of lão motif: white face, gray beard with three/five long smooth branches; educated and sophisticated.

Example: Vương Doãn (the play “Phụng Nghi pavillon”); Kiều Quốc cựu (the play “The Beauty from Giang Đông region”); etc.

Character Vương Doãn played by Thanh Bình


In appearance, they also shared similarities like the lão motif. If there’s a difference, then it’d be their face makeup base coloured in red. The difference between intellectual lão and brawny lão- their performance manners. Brawny lão would have more decisive and assertive movements, and a more powerful singing-dialogue delivery.


Similar to kép with angry eyes motif in kép motif, saggy lão motif is a lão motif that exceeds the usual characteristics and is portrayed in a dramatic styling. With a red face, a white under eye that extends to the cheeks, white beard; hot-headed and decisive. Example: Phàn Định Công (the play “San Hậu”); Trình Giảo Kim (the play “Phàn Lê Huê conquer the Hồng Thủy battle”); etc.

Character Phàn Định Công played by Đông Hồ

There are other motifs like mix-intellectual lão, fisherman lão, etc but they are rare in presence and don’t play a significant role in the script, a part of background characters. 


TYPE OF CHARACTERS IN VIETNAMESE HÁT BỘI, co-produced by Hiếu Văn Ngư – Cultura Fish and ICHCAP. Please give proper citation and do not repost by any type. 

  • Researcher: Vương Hoài Lâm 
  • Translator (Vietnamese – English): Hà Hoàng Minh Trang
  • Editor: Lục Phạm Quỳnh Nhi 
  • Photos: Giang Phạm 



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