When the play ends, the street kids have returned home and are no longer lost and lonely in the big city, but back in the arms of those they love.
The tearful teenage audience applauds with all its heart.
The well-received play Ve Dau? (Where are we going?) depicts the hardship and endurance of street children in the face of poverty and isolation.
The central character is a 15-year-old orphan who heads a group of homeless shoeshine boys and lottery tickets sellers in HCM City.
Despite the harsh life in the city, the boy is always kind to the other children.
In the most moving part of the play, the boy offers train tickets home, bought with his own savings, to other street kids who miss their families.
But the young boy stays behind because he does not know where to go and he wants to work to earn money to help more kids return home.
Last week, when she saw the play at a shelter for street children in HCM City’s District 5, a young girl cried out: "Mother! I miss you very much."
The play is one of three short plays in the Tieng Noi Tre Tho (Children’s Voices) programme now being performed in the city with financial assistance from the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA).
The other plays, Tieng Hat Dong Song (Songs of a River) and Con Trai-Con Gai (Boys&Girls), also have received an enthusiastic response from the audience.
Another play, Songs of a River, calls on youth to protect the environment.
When the play was performed in suburban Thu Duc District on Tuesday, many small boys and girls clambered onto the stage to collect garbage floating in a river.
The message was clear: After the show, the audience was seen picking up debris around their seats.
The enthusiasm of the audiences is so high that a spirited question-and-answer session between the cast and the viewers usually ensues after the performance.
SIDA will sponsor the Children’s Voices drama programme for three years until 2009, with VND700 million (US$43,750) given each year.
Over 15,000 young people have seen 40 performances of the three plays, organised this month at the Small Theatre at 5B Vo Van Tan Street in District 3, and at culture houses and shelters for street children in the city.
After HCM City, the plays will be staged in schools for underprivileged children in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) province of Lam Dong.
Performing in the plays are actors Trinh Kim Chi, Le Hoang, Thanh Van and Minh Beo and many young artists of the Small Theatre.
Admission to the performances is free. — VNS