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

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 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

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 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:

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 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. 

BTS Banner image5 14July2018.png

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!