It was almost ironic that Storm Deidre was passing through Oxford for this last reading and talk of 2018 given that the setting of ‘Between the Stones’ takes place in Kyoto in the middle of an autumnal typhoon! Nick, Henrietta and Andy were not put off by the storm when they read the piece, and we were pleased that others were also not deterred from attending! Our thanks to those who attended and for their interest. It was especially fulfilling for Jannette to revisit the Pitt Rivers following in Kitazawa-san’s footsteps who was here last year working with Andy and his team during the Noh time like the present tribute to Akira Matsui programme… sharing his wonderful mask making skills supported by the Japan Foundation.
It was a great pleasure to share our experience of noh, and a reading of the new noh, Between the Stones, at the British Library on 4 December 2018. This event was the first general public audience event in London of the Between the Stones Project: Getting to Noh from Page to Stage education and outreach programme.
We were delighted that Hamish Todd, Head of East Asian Collections, was there to open the evening and to welcome everyone. David Hughes, Research Associate and retired Head of Department, Department of Music and Research Associate, Japan Research Centre SOAS, University of London, introduced Jannette and her collaboration with Richard Emmert and professional noh actors, and gave a brief introduction to the musical qualities of noh as part of the introduction to noh. This was followed by the reading of Between the Stones.
On this occasion we were delighted to have the following people participate in the reading of the new noh: Paul Laikin, reading the part of the traveller (the Waki); Henrietta Heald, as the Woman Gardener and the Spirit of Farmor (the Shite); David Hughes, as the Priest (the Ai); young Clementine Laikin, who so beautifully read the part of the Lost Child from the City of Odawara (Kokata); and Jannette (as the Chorus).
Many thanks to the whole team and especially to those who joined us for the evening. The enthusiasm and the positive response at the end of the evening serves as a great encouragement to all those involved in the project.
The Coventry Young Ambassadors’ have completed their first peace project - 180 Peace Poem Furin (wind chimes)! Congratulations to all the children and their teachers for this wonderful achievement!
Do try to see the exhibition if you are in, or able to visit, Coventry! Here is the response from some of the teachers and head teachers…
We were delighted to undertake a talk at SOAS as part of the SOAS Japan Research Centre Seminar Series. Jannette delivered the initial talk on ‘What is noh?’ and ‘How do you develop a new noh ‘from page to stage’? She was then joined by David Hughes, Paul Laikin (and the star of the reading) 10-year old Clementine, who joined us for the first time to read the part of the Lost Child from the City of Odawara. Many people came up to us after to express their appreciation of the talk and reading and we are grateful for their appreciation, interest and questions at the end.
Jannette was delighted to accept an invitation by the Japan Society Northwest and the Japanese Garden Society to give an illustrated talk and reading of the new noh Between the Stones in Manchester on 27 October 2018. Given the strong link to gardens in the new noh, Jannette (and friends Maurice & Linda) were delighted to have the opportunity in the morning of a guided tour to the Walkden Japanese Garden, by Ioan Davies, Chair of the Japanese Garden Society, Northwest Region, and to meet a number of the JGS volunteers’ as they braved the cold winds for an Autumn tidy-up!
In the afternoon Jannette enjoyed meeting a number of JSNW members after she gave her illustrated talk and reading of Between the Stones in the Manchester International Society building. Several members of the audience came up to Jannette after the reading and she was humbled when they said they had been moved to tears. Joan Horley, Secretary of the JSNW, wrote to Jannette soon after:
September took us (Japan Society, Jannette and with the support of photographer Clive Barda) to Coventry, to spend most of one day working with 180 children from Five Coventry Primary Schools. The aim was to introduce the children and their teachers to noh and the story of Between the Stones. During the day, while the teachers planned their ‘next steps’, the children split into small groups to read, role-play and draw images from three scenes from Between the Stones working with Japan Society colleagues: Heidi, Hannah and Rebecca.
Jannette shared with the teachers some possible art-related ideas for on-going work inspired by the Between the Stones story and noh, and then joined the children. At the end of the day the teachers decided to opt to develop ‘peace poem tanzaku’ for wind chimes inspired by the story of Between the Stones. When completed the schools have been invited to exhibit their ‘Peace Poems’ in Coventry Cathedral in front of the beautiful West Screen - from 8-16 November 2018 - please do drop in to see their work if you are in the region!
We have just heard that John Lewis and Partners are very kindly donating three trees (now called the Peace Trees!) on which the Coventry Young Ambassadors’ 180 Peace Poem Wind Chimes will be exhibited!
After the completion of the Peace Wind Chimes the schools with begin to work on two further ‘peace’ projects: one will utilise typical noh story structures, and the other will involve the schools in creating ‘karesansui’ gardens…
On Monday 24 September Jannette met over 80 members of the Kilkenny Liberal Studies Group. Noh, karesansui gardens and other Japanese arts were completely new to the group. It was such a lovely, enthusiastic group to finish the short, but busy, trip to Ireland! The Liberal Studies Group asked very interesting questions following the talk and reading, and the Q&A session clearly indicated their great appreciation of their introduction to noh, the story and the poetic form of Between the Stones. Jannette was wonderfully supported for the reading by Christopher Heltzel and Margot Lydon (a member of the Kilkenny Liberal Studies Group) who are both local to Kilkenny.
Only a few members of the Kilkenny Liberal Studies Group knew that Kilkenny had a special connection to the story of Between the Stones as Jannette spent many holidays in Kilkenny in the late 1970s visiting the home of ‘Farmor’ and her family and contributing to two of the Kilkenny Arts Festivals that have occurred annually for the past 44 years.
Jannette was able to stay with two close friends, Eva & Rudolf Heltzel, who still live in Kilkenny - Rudolf, a world-renowned silver and goldsmith, has been seriously ill recently and it was lovely for Jannette to see him at home recovering after spending months in hospital. Eva, continues to be a great supporter of Jannette’s work, travelling to London last February to see the ‘Noh time like the present… tribute performance for Akira Matsui’, and continuing to offer great moral encouragement for the Between the Stones project, and to Jannette.
So, thank you Eva, Rudolf, Christopher and all the people of Kilkenny who have supported the project thus far!
Jannette, supported by Christopher Heltzel and actor, Des Early, gave an introduction to noh and a reading of Between the Stones to members of the public and the Ireland Japan Association at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin on 23 September 2018. There was a very good response and interesting questions from those who attended. We were delighted that a former-First Secretary to the Embassy of Ireland in Japan, Paul Murray, and his wife Elizabeth, were able to attend together with Mr Sou Watanabe from the Japanese Embassy in Dublin. By an amazing coincidence, Elizabeth, was a student at the same art school as Jannette, but even more surprising was that she knew the person on which the protagonist of Between the Stones is based!
A representative of Mill Theatre also attended, and subsequently Mill Theatre Manager, Kate Canning, has written to say they wish to host a Phase 2 Performance Development Event in Dublin on 8 February 2019. (Learn more…)
Our sincere thanks to the Ireland Japan Association, especially Ieva and Darina, for organising the Phase 1 event and for extending the initial invitation to Jannette.
It has been a busy couple of weeks. We gave talks in the Japan Gallery of the Oriental Museum, Durham University, and at Cragside House in Northumbria over the weekend of 18-19 August 2018, and last week there were discussions in Paris regarding events and venues for 2019 and 2020.
It was great to meet people in Durham who had a genuine interest in noh, some completely new to it and others who had seen noh in Japan. Their positive feedback and interest was very much appreciated and we would like to encourage those who spoke to us to keep in contact via the website.
We particularly would like to thank Craig, Rachel and all the staff at Durham and Cragside House for their support over the weekend. Although David and Gina, of course, know the Museum and the area very well, it was the first visit for Jannette, who was especially pleased to be able to visit Durham, the Museum and Cragside House.
We will report back on Paris in due course, but suffice it to say the meetings were all extremely helpful.
Between the Stones has been organised as a two-year project covering three main phases (you can read more about this on the website!) The following events took place before the project website was established but we feel they are too important not to include them in the news updates!
18 May 2018
National Dying Matters Week, Marie Curie Hampstead Hospice
Jannette had always felt it was important to include a hospice in the Between the Stones: ‘Getting to Noh - from page to stage’ education and outreach programme of activities which is central to the delivery of the whole project. She contacted the Hampstead hospice which cared for Dianna, her sister, and they were extremely interested to be part of the project and suggested that an introduction to noh and a reading of Between the Stones could be undertaken at the hospice during National Dying Matters Week. Staff at the hospice organised the whole event and also were keen to make it an opportunity to pay tribute to Dianna and the staff at the hospice who cared for her.
The event was attended by hospice staff and friends, and by coincidence was able to include, Jannette’s long-standing friend, Ken Garland, who took on the graphic design work of the programme and other publicity material of Jannette’s first noh play, Pagoda, as his last design commission in 2009. It was wonderful to see Ken and others and to have their support.
We were also very fortunate, at this early stage of the project, to have Minister Shinichi Iida to attend and share some touching thoughts and words of encouragement at the beginning of the event. Also, in attendance for the first part of the event was Dr Jane Collins, CEO of Marie Curie and although was unable to stay for the reading but later wrote:
We planted a Japanese Maple tree in the Hospice gardens and left a wind chime and ‘Between the Stones’ tanzaku poem card for Dianna at the end of the afternoon.
This event marked the beginning of the wider sharing of ‘Between the Stones’ and captured the heart and soul of the piece in making it part of National Dying Matters Week… Thank you to all who supported the event and shared their valuable time with us!
20 February 2018
Royal Holloway University of London, Handa Noh Theatre
As colleagues and friends, Ashley Thorpe and Jannette Cheong, decided to undertake a joint illustrated talk and reading of their two plays (Emily & Between the Stones) to a small audience of students and colleagues at Royal Holloway University of London where Ashley is a senior lecturer in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance, Centre for Asian Theatre and Dance. Actually, it was Richard Emmert's suggestion! Ashley and Jannette had, in fact, met a few weeks earlier and read each other's noh pieces - in private!
But as this was the first 'open' reading of the two new noh pieces it was a rather special occasion for both writers. Both projects are collaborations with Richard Emmert and they had been written at roughly the same time. In terms of working with Rick - Jannette had to conduct her conversations with Rick over the Internet mostly in the Summer of 2017, while Ashley had the opportunity to be in Tokyo on sabbatical leave from Royal Holloway to work directly with Rick in the Autumn 2017, and at the same time continuing his research and noh performance training.
Subsequently, Ashley was able to create and perform in the first wonderful live performance of Emily with his students together with Richard Emmert at Royal Holloway. This was a massive, wonderful achievement as the second British person to write a new noh in English, but the first to also perform in his own play!
The new Between the Stones Project website was launched in late July and has been tested by a range of different friends and colleagues.
A big thank you!
We are extremely grateful to Ian, Sam and Casey for all their encouragement, help and assistance with the website initiation, development and ongoing support! Also, our sincere thanks to all those who have taken the time and trouble to give us valuable feedback during the testing period. It is the encouragement of others that has brought us this far, and will also keep us going! Thank you everyone!
We would be pleased to hear your views on the website - so please do contact us if you have any comments. We will endeavour to keep you abreast of major developments on this News Page of the site as we move through each phase of the project.
If you are an educational or outreach organisation and have an interest in Japanese culture, gardens, or our work, and would like us to collaborate with us - do feel free to contact us. We particularly wish to hear from Swedish, French and Japanese organisations as we have some scope for a few additional joint Phase 1 & 2 related activities in February (Sweden - for 10 Feb 2019, and France for 12 Feb 2019) and in Japan (during March 2019).
In the meantime, take a look at the 2018 Events in the UK and Ireland and do come and join us if there is an event near you!