The origin of tuồng is still unclear. It is believed that it was imported from China around the 13th century when Vietnam was warring against the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. A famous actor named Lý Nguyên Cát (李元吉) was imprisoned by the Vietnamese. The imperial court asked him to spread his knowledge of Chinese theatre to the children of the elite, thus explaining how tuồng had first had its beginnings in Vietnam in the royal court. Later on, it was adapted to travelling troupes who entertained commoners and peasants.
However, the first one to lay the foundation for the art of tuồng in Vietnam is Dao Duy Tu. Under the Nguyen dynasty which he served for, tuồng reached its highest point and was favored by Nguyen kings. Many great playwrights including Đào Tấn were also in this time.
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