2019 Phase 2: Development Workshop & Getting to Noh Activities

1-11 February 2019

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Teruhisa & Kinue Oshima and Richard Emmert

Performance presentation at the Embassy of Japan London. 6 February 2019. Photograph by Clive Barda

We have now completed the development workshop in London, as well as a range of education and outreach activities in London, Coventry, Dublin and Paris. Most of these took place within the period from 1-11 February, with the addition of a ‘Getting to Noh’ talk at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for the Japanese Garden Society and members of the public. You can read comments in other related news updates below.

The Development workshop was a wonderful opportunity for Teruhisa and Kinue Oshima, Richard Emmert and Jannette Cheong to work together for four days on the new ‘Between the Stones’ noh. The creative team discussed character focus, choreography, music, mask, costumes and essential props and accessories and how these could be developed to enhance the central essence of the piece.

This was an exciting phase of the project for Jannette and Rick especially, as this aspect of the development is the direct result of having the opportunity to discuss the work with Teruhisa and Kinue Oshima and to include their thoughts and ideas on how they see the work developing for stage. So a very big thank you to everyone concerned in undertaking this work so earnestly.

We are pleased to be able to say that we completed all the activities as planned for the visit and the whole team was delighted to receive such positive feedback from each of the additional events undertaken. We would like to thank everyone for their interest and support! The audiences were wonderful and their positive interest has been very much appreciated and extremely encouraging.

Since the team returned to Tokyo Jannette has continued working on the piece with Rick, as he continues to work on the music composition. Each time Jannette undertakes a new talk to share the ‘page to stage’ experience of creating a new noh she has shared how the piece has been shaped by the development process and this will continue at future talks.

These Phase 2 activities have been possible because of the wonderful support of a number of individuals and organisations. In the UK these included:

  • The Embassy of Japan London, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, the Japan Society, Mitsubishi Electric Europe, London Digital Print (Ian Greaterex and Chris Rowe), the British Library, (especially Hamish Todd, Head of East Asian Collections and Jean-Philippe Calvin, Corporate Affairs). The British Library has supported both Phase 1 & 2 and have now also expressed a strong interest in education and outreach activities for Phase 3.

  • The support of other individuals such as Simon Callow, Graham Marchant, Henrietta Heald, Clive Barda and Paul and Clementine Laikin has also been very important to the delivery of the project before and during Phase 2.

Our sincere thanks to these collaborating partners, as well as all of the education partners, especially David Hughes, Ramiro Silveira, Margaret Coldiron and Kenneth Rea and their wonderful students; and to the amazing staff and pupils in Coventry with whom Kinue, Richard and Jannette spent time with on 7 February 2019 to help them begin their second (of three) ‘peace’ projects! We were delighted that the results of the first project, the children’s peace poem tanzakus, could also be exhibited at the Japanese Embassy during our Between the Stones event to highlight the collaboration between the 180 Coventry Young Ambassadors from five Coventry Primary Schools, the Japan Society and the Between the Stones Project Team!

Dear Jannette

Thank you so much for all your hard work involving us in the Noh project and for giving us such fantastic opportunities.
Firstly on behalf of myself and all the schools, thank you very much for inviting us to the Embassy event. It was a great honour to attend and we were thrilled at how interested everyone was in our peace poems.

Secondly, many, many thanks to you, Kinue and Richard for coming up to Coventry especially when you had such a busy schedule. The workshop with the pupils was absolutely fantastic. I had been curious to see the children’s reaction to Noh and they were completely mesmerised. It was something so different to anything they have experienced before. I think that they will always remember the experience. In our busy lives as educators we sometimes need to stand back and let the children experience something totally different.

We are very excited about the next phase of our project and are meeting in a couple of weeks to plan how we are going to develop the travel songs. I’ll keep you informed of our plans. I’ll also start working with Afton on the gardens project so that it is ready for the summer.

Please pass on our sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Oshima family and Richard.
— Rebecca Bollands, Deputy Head Teacher, Howes Primary School

Coventry Young Ambassadors’ 180 wind chimes and their peace poem tanzaku which were first exhibited at Coventry Cathedral on Armistice Day 2018, and then displayed at the Japanese Embassy on 6 February 2019 for the Between the Stones Phase 2 Presentation Event.

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Kinue Oshima and Richard Emmert giving a performance workshop to 180 Coventry Young Ambassadors on 7 February 2019 in preparation for their second ‘peace’ project.

2019 Getting to Noh - East 15 Acting Students Noh Writing Project

22-25 January 2019

During a very busy ‘student’ working week Jannette participated in the delivery of a noh writing workshop at the invitation of Margaret (Jiggs) Coldiron. Jannette found her time (almost four days) with the students inspiring - especially their positive attitude to the project, dedication to understanding as much as they could about the art form and their keen interest to produce exciting original work in such a short time. Jannette felt each of the students’ projects had such great potential and was very moved by their storytelling skills and engagement with the project theme (we chose the same theme as Between the Stones, i.e. ‘finding peace and love from tragic loss’…)

Congratulations to all the students on their achievements and many thanks to Jiggs for the kind invitation to work with the 2nd year BA World Performance students at East 15 Acting School.

The project focused on some key principles of storytelling as applied to noh, but giving the students the flexibility to perform their work in a musical genre of their own choice… demonstrating how cultural fusion can occur through this form of storytelling… and with such fascinating results!

I was astonished at what truly passionate, clear and moving work Jannette was able to draw from my World Performance students in her project on Noh: From Page to Stage. As both a scholar and lover of Noh I wanted my students to be able to engage with this exceptional art form, but I worried that the challenges of grasping both the Noh aesthetic and the structure of Noh plays might be more than could be accomplished in just a few days. However, Jannette’s careful management of the tasks required provided the students with the tools they needed to create some marvellous pieces that used Noh and their own ideas and experiences to create six exceptional poetic performances. I hope that we can repeat the project with more time that will allow the students to go even further. The project has won over this group to Noh and many want to go on to pursue deeper study of the form, while others are finding it a useful tool in their own creative work as playwrights and theatre-makers.
— Dr Margaret Coldiron, Deputy Head, BA World Performance

The students performing their original work inspired by noh:

East 15 Acting School, University of Essex, 2nd Year BA World Performance Students

East 15 Acting School, University of Essex, 2nd Year BA World Performance Students

East 15 Getting to Noh Project: Three students’ detailed feedback:-

This short project was designed to introduce students to the key elements of writing for noh and to have a close up and interactive experience of how a new noh begins its journey. Working in small groups students were also asked to create a short piece using their own work drawing on what they have learned about storytelling and how this evolves from the page to the stage in a classical art form working with the theme: finding beauty, peace and love from tragic loss, but using their own musical genre as applied to either a newly created michiyuki ‘travel song’ or kuse ‘central song’.

Q1: To what extent do you have a better understanding of key elements in storytelling for both classical and contemporary noh-related works?
Student Graded Responses: 5, 4, 5

Q2: To what extent have you been able to utilise your increased knowledge of noh to create a new piece of work?
Student Graded Response: 5, 4, 5

Q3: To what extent have you learned how a new noh in traditional style is conceived and created from page to stage?
Student Graded Response: 4, 4, 4

Q4: Which aspects of the Getting to Noh project made the greatest impression on you and why?

Student response1: The reading of Jannette’s poetry as it was very emotionally captivating and it made me connect to Noh more as I could actually enjoy the poetic side of it through language accessible to me. Also, the project was very well structured, consequently the whole process was very easy to follow.
Student response 2: The writing of the script - I was unfamiliar with how they were meant to be formatted (for example, the journey song maps out key geographical points), so it was interesting to learn how these were created. The poetry that can come out of this is quite inspiring.
Student response 3: The Jo-Ha-Kyu structure is powerful in creating and sustaining action and has also been useful in other modules such as playwriting.

Q5: What aspects of the project development have you most enjoyed and why?

Student response 1: The part in which the story and poetry were created. In a fairly short time and by use of “deadlines” the groups managed to come up with a story quite quickly which allowed us plenty of time trying to fit the story into the Noh form which I found very interesting and enjoyable. Getting to know the form and trying to understand the place of the characters within the form gave me a new perspective of the function of characters within a story. Also, the main elements of jo-ha-kyu and less is more, although they are very universal concepts were not as prominent in my thinking while creating new works as they are now. Having worked with these concepts and purposely trying to use these concepts in the pieces we were making, re-introduced them in my mind which will be definitely helpful for future creations.
Student response 2: Adding music to our poems was interesting because it looked at how music could support the text in setting the scene or creating an atmosphere.
Students response 3: I thoroughly enjoyed coming up with a concept for a Noh piece based around the theme of loss, and then creating a touching story about innocence and childhood. Writing a travel song for this story was an enjoyable process, as I liked researching the geography of our chosen location and intertwining it with the poetry.

Q6: What areas of learning presented the greatest challenge and what did you learn by working through the challenge?

Student response 1: Bringing page to stage was definitely the hardest part of the whole process. The main obstacle was trying to figure out how much of the visual Noh aspects we were going to use. What we learned, however, and this was initiated by the fact that we did not learn the Noh way of singing nor the very specific movements, is that by taking inspiration from the way of staging or use of space and artists we could fill this ‘empty’ form or silhouette and paint it in ourselves using our own skills.
Student response 2: I found that creating the narrative of the complete Noh play, as a means to better understand the poem we were writing, very challenging because I felt that the conventions we had to stick were not familiar to us. However, in the long run I feel pushing through this challenge lead to solid narratives with action instead of merely emotion were created.
Student response 3: The biggest challenge was trying to put the song/story on its feet due to the amount of time we were given, but through this I learned not to try and overcomplicate things and keep it simple, especially when given a short time-frame.

Q7: Do you feel you will be able to use any of this new learning in some way in the future? If possible, can you give some examples?

Student response 1: Definitely. The concepts Jo-ha-kyu and less is more are now one of the first thoughts I have when creating new works, especially when problems arise, they seem to help push the process forward again. Also the idea that a form is empty and with the understanding that one can fill it in themselves, is very useful as it gives you beacons or boundaries which will keep your feet on the ground as it were, it gives the creation a certain direction or grounding, while in the meantime recognizing the freedom of the space between gives you endless possibilities of creating without being completely lost. In general I think that is something useful to remember, it gives you guidance and support through your journey of ideas.
Student response 2: Adding music to our poems was interesting because it looked at how music could support the text in setting the scene or creating an atmosphere.
Student response 3: Writing poetry is not something I have a lot of experience in, so this project was a chance for me to explore outside my comfort zone. The aforementioned geography research and combining with song was a great experience, so this is definitely something I may try again in future.
— Three examples of anonymous student feedback (Graded responses used 5 as the highest and 0 as the lowest)

2019 Getting to Noh - Guildhall School of Music and Drama Actor's Performance Workshop

1 February 2019

The second Getting to Noh event of 2019 was a student performance workshop with the BA Acting Students at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The students were fortunate to be able to work with the Between the Stones Creative Team: Richard Emmert, Teruhisa and Kinue Oshima at the invitation of Kenneth Rea.

The students worked on basic kata (movement patterns) and utai (chant) as well as some drum call patterns. They made good progress given the amount of time available and appeared to understand and benefit a great deal from the three-hour workshop. Dr Kenneth Rea who worked with us to arrange this workshop for the students wrote:

Dear Jannette,

I want to thank you and your team most sincerely for the wonderful Noh workshop that you ran for our Guildhall students last Saturday. I had hoped that my students would gain an understanding of the discipline, presence and concentration of Noh actors, and the workshop delivered all of that brilliantly. For the students it was an inspiring event that, I’m sure they will draw on for many years to come.
— Dr Kenneth Rea
Comments from three students:

Hi Ken,
Just wanted to say I appreciated the workshop it was a great opportunity to learn and experience a skilled Japanese art form. I took away many things from that workshop but one thing I want to point out is how technical and kind of physically tiring it was to have stage presence which I want to bring to my work.
Emanuel Vuso

Dear Ken,
Yesterday’s workshop was lovely and a privilege. Thank you once again for always getting the best for us.
Regards,
Chirag

Hi Ken,
It was so wonderful to watch the Noh actors perform and be welcomed to join in and learn from their process. I especially loved the dance/choreography we were taught as it helped me centre and focus my energy and concentration.

See you soon,
Lucy
— Comments from students: Emanuel, Chirag and Lucy


2019 Getting to Noh - ARTA, Cartoucherie, Paris

10 February 2019

Our thanks to Giulia Pesole, and Artistic Directors Lucia Bensasson and Jean Francois Dusigne, for inviting us to ARTA, Association de Recherche des Traditions de l'acteur in Paris. As with our other visits during the week, in Paris people also had to brave strong winds as they travelled to the Cartoucherie to see our presentation at ARTA. It was lovely to see such a variety of people, many of whom spoke so positively to us about our work after the presentation. We thank them all for their kind and encouraging comments. We would also like to thank Veronique, who by chance was in the audience and is a professional translator from Japanese into French and English! Many thanks for your very kind contribution, Veronique!

After the workshop the team had the wonderful opportunity to have a meeting with Ariane Mnouchkine, founder of Théâtre du Soleil and Vice-President of ARTA, at Théâtre du Soleil which is just a stone's throw from ARTA!

We look forward to working again with ARTA in future.

2019 Getting to Noh - dlr Mill Theatre, Dumdrum, Dublin

8 February 2019

Many people braved ‘Storm Erik’ to come to see us at dlr Mill Theatre, Dundrum in Dublin. We were very pleased to arrive in Dublin (safe and sound after a difficult landing by a very skilful pilot!) because the Mill Theatre audience was extremely warm and hospitable!

A huge thanks to the Ireland Japan Association and Mill Theatre staff, especially Manager Kate Canning, for all their efforts. On the night more than 150 people turned up in the bad weather to the presentation event. We were also grateful to the number of friends who travelled up from Kilkenny to support us! Kate had also kindly arranged for a professional photographer to take the shots (pictured below) - our thanks to them both!

There were a number of questions at the end of the presentation. A lot of interest in understanding noh and the new piece had been generated judging by the number of people who stayed behind to ask further questions and to pass on their thanks to the team! We are very grateful to them all for their interest and to Kate for the kind invitation.

After the performance we met a number of members of the Ireland Japan Association. It was a particular special honour to meet the oldest Japanese person who has ever lived in Dublin - Yoshiko Ushioda, who has a fascinating history! You can read more about her life in the attached article.

Performance Presentation Event, dlr Mill Theatre, Dundrum, Dublin - 8 February 2019. Photographs courtesy of Mill Theatre.

2019 Getting to Noh - The British Library (Phase 2) Public Presentation

5 February 2019

We were delighted to be invited to present the public Phase 2 event on 5 February 2019 at the British Library.

While working with the British Library the Creative Team took the opportunity earlier in the day to study and discuss some of the Library’s relatively new acquisitions of noh-related material with British Library staff Yasuyo Ohtsuka and Hamish Todd, Head of East Asian Collections.

The Phase 2 event sold out early and we were delighted that it was very well received by the people who attended. We thank them for their very kind feedback and support!

Dear Jannette,

I just wanted to send you a note to thank you, Rick and the Oshimas for a wonderful event last night and to wish you ‘good luck’ for tonight!
— Hamish Todd, Head of East Asian Collections, The British Library
Thank you so much for inviting me to the moving Between the Stones Phase 2 event at the British Library. It was a great pleasure to be present at the first public performance of the play and to witness how beautifully it has developed since I heard the first reading some eighteen months ago. It was also a great privilege to be taught a few of the fundamentals of Noh by two members of a great Noh dynasty. The combination of your introduction to Noh, the demonstrations by the Oshimas translated so aptly by Rick, your reading of your play, and then finally the dance in the magnificent Noh kimono did much to enrich my understanding and enjoyment of Noh. Good luck with Phase 3. Phase 2 already stands as a memorable achievement in its own right.
— Lesley Hayman

Photographs by Jannette Cheong. Library resources courtesy of the British Library.

2019 Getting to Noh - Presentation at the Embassy of Japan

6 February 2019

The creative team were invited to give a Phase 2 Presentation Event at the Embassy for Japan in London. The event was opened by Minister Shinichi Iida, and was followed by a performance demonstration by Teruhisa and Kinue Oshima and Richard Emmert. Then, British Actor, Simon Callow, who had very kindly taken the evening off from intensive rehearsals for his current show, read the then draft script of the new contemporary noh ‘Between the Stones’ beautifully assisted at the end by young Clementine Laikin. The reading was followed by a short demonstration of the ‘kuse’ section of the new noh by Kinue Oshima in full costume and mask, with Teruhisa and Rick both singing for the Chorus in English.

Comments received after this event included:

Brilliant!

An illuminating + brilliant event

Great show!

I believe very passionately that events of this kind greatly inspire and encourage human beings to learn and discover more about the beauty, history and culture of this wondrous world we live in

Wonderful evening!

— Comments forwarded by the staff of the Embassy!
 
I thought the various elements came together very well and it was a pleasure
to hear and see your moving text rendered so beautifully.

The whole project is coming together so well and we are delighted to have
been able to offer some support. The education programme is exemplary.
Chapeaux!

Kind regards

Brendan

p.s. how wonderful to see the Embassy Ballroom so full - and such an
attentive audience!
— Brendan Griggs Chief Executive The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation
 
It was a privilege to be at the Embassy of Japan in London for the demonstration and performance evening which was a central part of Phase 2 of the Between the Stones project.
We saw Kinue and Teruhisa Oshima, working with Richard Emmert, give us a gripping demonstration of some noh techniques. We were spellbound as Simon Callow read the whole of the developing text of Between the Stones. And finally we had a first ever taste of what the work will look and sound like when it is put on stage, as the three performers gave us the world premiere of a scene which they had been working on together in London.
Those of us who have been following the project since its first days could not have been more thrilled to see and feel its impact. Our warmest thanks are due to the Embassy and to the sponsors for enabling this event to take place, as a key step towards making a reality of this exciting project.
— Nick Sanders
 
Dear Jannette

Thank you so much for all your hard work involving us in the Noh project and for giving us such fantastic opportunities.
Firstly on behalf of myself and all the schools, thank you very much for inviting us to the Embassy event. It was a great honour to attend and we were thrilled at how interested everyone was in our peace poems.

Secondly, many, many thanks to you, Kinue and Richard for coming up to Coventry especially when you had such a busy schedule. The workshop with the pupils was absolutely fantastic. I had been curious to see the children’s reaction to Noh and they were completely mesmerised. It was something so different to anything they have experienced before. I think that they will always remember the experience. In our busy lives as educators we sometimes need to stand back and let the children experience something totally different.

We are very excited about the next phase of our project and are meeting in a couple of weeks to plan how we are going to develop the travel songs. I’ll keep you informed of our plans. I’ll also start working with Afton on the gardens project so that it is ready for the summer.

Please pass on our sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Oshima family and Richard.
— With best wishes, Rebecca Bollands
 
Huge thanks for inviting me to the Between the Stones event at the Japanese Embassy - I found the whole evening to be continually fascinating, informative, and inspiring, and really appreciate the opportunity of having been there for it.
— Bhaskar Chakravarti
What a lovely evening! A marvellous venue, attentive staff, incredibly interesting demonstration of the Art of Noh – and a beautiful reading by Simon of Between the Stones. It was a most successful event.
— Joan Lane, Producer
I want to thank you so very much for the privilege of attending your wonderful event last night. It was such a wonderful revelation and insight into the beauty and richness of the Noh art form graced by such brilliant exponents of the art through the drama of your wonderful play. It was lovely to have Richard and Simon to further illuminate the play’s action.
— Phil Starr

The Performance Presentation Event at the Embassy of Japan, London. Photographs by Clive Barda

Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum, 15 December 2018

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.

Jannette, thank you again for a wonderful talk at the Pitt Rivers on Noh theatre, and the reading of your new play, which I was very honoured to read a part for. It is really wonderful that we are able to continue what is now a long term partnership, which has included talks and presentations in the Pitt Rivers Museum, and the amazing residencies by the master carver Hideta Kitazawa. I really hope we can continue this partnership into the future.
— Andrew McLellan, Head of Education

The British Library, London

4 December 2018

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.

Congratulations on a very special event, combining a great deal of fascinating information about Noh itself with the personal story of your play and its development. The play reading was deeply moving and I trust it will encourage the audience to come on the journey from Page to Stage. We are looking forward to hosting the next event in the series on 5th February 2019.
— Hamish Todd, Head of East Asian Collections, The British Library
Saw the reading of Between the Stones this evening. Beautiful words, amazing performance and inspirational talk about the tradition and approach which is Noh. Thank you.
— Pippa Gough

Congratulations to the Coventry Young Ambassadors!

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…

Each school has done a fantastic job. As we were putting it up members of the public and cathedral staff were asking for more information about the children’s work. It will be on display until 16 November.

Many thanks for your help with this and we look forward to the next phases of the project.
— Rebecca Bollands, Deputy Head Teacher, Howes Primary School, Coventry
Wow! Stunning! So proud of all the contributors and all their hard work. Hoping to take my ambassadors down to see them next week.
Thanks for all your hard work Howes when putting them together!
— Tracy Bailey, Deputy Head Teacher, Park Hill Primary School, Coventry
I went to the Cathedral this afternoon and the display was certainly getting some attention. I’m not surprised!
— Paul Vickers, Year 4 Teacher, Park Hill Primary School, Coventry
They look stunning and so many members of the public approached me while I was there and said how much they liked the display. Well done all and thanks Howes in particular for all your work!
— Becky Fuller, Stivichall Primary School, Coventry
These are amazing - massive thank you to all the work that has gone into getting the display co-ordinated and ready - it’s a stunning thing - it really is!
Kindest regards
Richard
— Richard Machin, Head Teacher, Finham Primary School, Coventry
What a wonderful achievement. Our Year 5s are very much looking forward to our visit next week. Thank you for all of your hard work every body. Coventry schools have a great deal to feel proud of.
— Karen Ferguson, Head Teacher, Stivichall Primary School, Coventry
Coventry Young Ambassadors’ 180 Peace Poem Furin (wind chimes) at Coventry Cathedral,   8-16 November 2018

Coventry Young Ambassadors’ 180 Peace Poem Furin (wind chimes) at Coventry Cathedral, 8-16 November 2018

SOAS Japan Research Centre Seminar Series, London

24 October 2018

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.


I attended this event on 24 October because I wanted to hear the text again spread across different voices. The density of the poetic text means that it repays being heard several times and even then will not, I suspect, give up all its meanings.

The introduction to Noh, which preceded the reading, was useful for those of us to whom the form is strange. The reading which followed gained considerably from the use of different voices for different character, particularly the part of the young child which Clementine made clear and sharply differentiated from the other characters.

I love the text and am looking forward to hearing it again at the British Library.
— Graham Marchant

Japan Society Northwest, Japanese Garden Society, Manchester

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:

The presentation on Saturday was excellent. Really informative and the reading of Between the Stones was beautiful and very moving. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you!
— Joan Horley, Secretary of Japan Society Northwest
The author’s interest, enthusiasm and mastery of the detail was apparent during the performance. The highlight for me was Jannette’s reading of the play, when she showed the nuances within the story and the sensitive background. This brought tears to the eyes of some of the audience.
— Maurice Mealing


Coventry Peace Cities Schools Project

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…

180 Coventry Primary School Children and their teachers attended a ‘Getting to Noh’ workshop organised by the Japan Society and the  Between the Stones  Project. Here the children are learning about the symbolic hand gesture in noh, called the ‘shiori’ - which demonstrates by ‘scooping up their tears’ signifying sadness.. Photography by Clive Barda

180 Coventry Primary School Children and their teachers attended a ‘Getting to Noh’ workshop organised by the Japan Society and the Between the Stones Project. Here the children are learning about the symbolic hand gesture in noh, called the ‘shiori’ - which demonstrates by ‘scooping up their tears’ signifying sadness.. Photography by Clive Barda

Kilkenny Liberal Studies Group, Ireland

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!

I originally met Jannette many years ago through one of my best friends Farmor. And it was when Farmor was celebrating her 70th birthday in London that I attended Jannette’s production of ‘Pagoda’ which was fantastic. Having then become enthusiastic about Noh, I went to London to see Jannette’s last Noh-related production last year (2017), and of course, this year’s Phase 1 talk at the RHA, followed by the one here in Kilkenny, to hear more about her new Noh collaboration ‘Between the Stones’.

I, like everyone in the audience was enthralled. The Liberal Studies Group in Kilkenny had never heard of Noh. We were so enthusiastic the hand clapping took a long time to stop! The Study Group want to know more and will happily travel to the Mill Theatre in Dublin in February 2019 for the second part!
— Eva Heltzel, Member of the Kilkenny Liberal Studies Group

Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland

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!

We enjoyed your performance so much and the coincidences were simply amazing... Keep up the good work!
— Paul Murray, Former First Secretary to the Embassy of Ireland, Japan

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.


Durham, Cragside, Paris

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. 

 

Initial Phase 1 Events

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 where her sister, Dianna, spent her last days, and they were extremely interested to be part of the project. The hospice staff 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:

It was really nice to meet you on Friday, Jannette, as well as your colleagues. It was also nice to meet the Minister. It was a fascinating presentation about something I really didn’t know anything about. I was sorry that I had to leave at 4 to take a call. I gather the reading was wonderful.
Thank you for sharing this with us.
Best Wishes
Jane

— Jane Collins Chief Executive Marie Curie Care and support through terminal illness

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!



Between the Stones Project website launched

The new Between the Stones Project website was launched in late July and has been tested by a range of different friends and colleagues. 

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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 for potential Phase 1 & 2 related activities. 

In the meantime, take a look at the 2018 Events which has taken place and also those place so far for 2019 in the UK and Ireland. Do come and join us if there is an event near you!