Between the Stones is the third artistic collaboration between Richard Emmert (composer, director) and Jannette Cheong (writer, designer) in the 10 years that they have known each other. The first time they collaborated was in 2008-9 when they created the acclaimed English-language noh Pagoda; an Oshima Theatre and Theatre Nohgaku joint production supported by Bunkacho (the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs) in 2009 (touring the production to London, Dublin, Oxford, Paris) and 2011 (opening at the National Noh Theatre, Tokyo, and touring to Kyoto, Beijing and Hong Kong).
The Between the Stones Project is the second co-production by Richard Emmert, Jannette Cheong and Unanico following their acclaimed 2017 co-production: Noh time like the present... a Tribute to Akira Matsui. Unanico both supported the delivery of the project and are also working on the production of a short film of an interview with Akira Matsui.
We are pleased and very much looking forward to be working with them all, and to including their contributions into the project.
About The Project
To create a new noh using traditional noh techniques and perform this in Europe and Japan is an ambitious project. The Between the Stones Project is particularly ambitious in terms of the timing - as it is planned to be completed in two years, (not four, as was the case for Pagoda - though the development period is very similar). The two-year period identified (2018-2020) will allow the project to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the associated Japan Season of Culture.
What makes the project different is that the programme of education and outreach work is centre stage. In fact, the approach being taken is that we (audiences and the project team) will all learn about the development of this new noh within a similar timeframe - as we follow the page to stage development of the new noh, Between the Stones.
There are three main phases to the project:
Phase 1: Illustrated Talks and Readings (during 2018 & 2019)
Phase 2: Development Workshop (February 2019), Public Talks and further Education and outreach activities (February-March 2019), including potentially some additional readings in other countries
Phase 3: Performance tour (Europe and Japan) (2020 dates tbc).
Importantly, each phase of the project has been envisaged to be of value in, and of, itself to try to engage with as many as people as possible throughout the life of the project.
About The Challenge
Writing and composing for noh are both wonderful, and substantial artistic challenges. Producing noh, especially as artists, is many times more difficult. When Pagoda was performed in London in 2009 we were informed by those in the Japan cultural and arts world that there had not been a full-length performance of noh in London for 19 years. It is now ten years since the Pagoda project. Indeed, these are rare undertakings. The art of noh is becoming more known in general through the work of others both inside and outside of Japan who have toured their work internationally. However, most often such tours have not included full-length noh performances, let alone newly created noh in English aimed at international audiences.
It is impossible to produce noh without the support of many others: artists, contributing partner organisations, audiences and most of all - sponsors. Our vision and aims embrace these challenges and we believe that it is important to share what we and our collaborating artists and partners learn and achieve.
We have developed the project and, indeed, this website, to help us structure and support the project development and at the same time give others some understanding of 'What is noh?' and 'How a new noh using traditional noh techniques is developed from the page to the stage, and the extent of collaboration necessary for such artistic and educational projects to develop.
We are grateful to all those who have worked with us to help enable the many aspects of our collaborative work to fruition in the past, and to all those who are taking an interest and collaborating with us on the new noh, as part of the Between the Stones project.
You are invited to join us, and those with whom we will have the privilege to work, on this two-year epic journey (2018-2020)... 'from page to stage'.
Jannette Cheong, Richard Emmert, Paul Laikin
A little more about our background
Past collaborative projects between Jannette Cheong, Richard Emmert and Unanico have combined performing arts with educational and other activities to raise awareness and understanding of noh to a wide range of audiences predominantly outside, but also inside, Japan.
Jannette Cheong and Richard Emmert’s first artistic collaboration created the noh Pagoda and was an acclaimed success throughout both tours. See Pagoda Tour Reports (2009, 2011). Pagoda was the first English language noh to be written by a British writer using traditional noh techniques. The Pagoda project inspired other collaborations to blossom both indirectly, for example, the Noh Training Project UK which Richard Emmert helped to found and direct in 2011 with Ashley Thorpe; and directly, through the on-going project development work of Jannette Cheong and Jason Jameson (Unanico) in their illustrated book and animated film of Pagoda.
The second artistic collaboration between Jannette Cheong and Richard Emmert was a co-production with Unanico Group - the cross cultural programme ‘Noh time like the present… A Tribute to Akira Matsui’ performed as four separate pieces at LSO St Luke’s (London 2017) showcasing the art of noh working with western theatre (a noh rendition of Rockaby by Samuel Beckett), western classical music (Bach meets noh), and opera and contemporary ballet - for which Jannette Cheong wrote the noh conceptual piece Opposites-InVerse exploring aspects of philosophy, science and the art of noh, with music and direction by Richard Emmert and choreography by Akira Matsui and Peter Leung.