SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

What is an author’s view of noh? How is a new noh in traditional style conceived from ‘page to stage’?

IMG - Noh
Jannette Cheong (Poet, writer, designer and curator)

Date: 24 October 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 24 October 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Seminar


Noh’ is classical Japanese masked theatre which combines elements of dance, drama, music and poetic text into a highly aesthetic form of art that has been performed continuously for 650 years. Essentially, musical theatre, what comes first in noh - music or text?

Jannette Cheong, author of ‘Between the Stones’, a new two-act English language noh drama, will share her experience of noh, how she works with Richard Emmert, the composer, and from her past experience how she will be working with Japanese noh artists, including noh mask maker, Hideta Kitazawa. Jannette will introduce the new project and how a new noh is developed from the poetic text in preparation for a stage production and will include, with the support of others, a reading of the new noh

This new noh brings together three iconic Japanese cultural forms (noh, including masks carved by Hideta Kitazawa, karesansui gardens and furin wind chimes). The piece explores how the burden of grief turns into an understanding and celebration of life and death, friendship, beauty and love; as well as the transformative power of gardens to nurture and heal the soul… 

Between the Stones’ is the third noh performing arts collaboration between Jannette Cheong and composer Richard Emmert, which began with the acclaimed success of Pagoda (European Tour - London, Dublin, Oxford, Paris 2009, Asia Tour - Tokyo, Kyoto, Beijing, Hong Kong 2011) and Opposites-InVerse (London 2017) . Richard Emmert is a professor of Asian performance at Musashino University in Tokyo. He has studied, taught and performed classical noh drama in Japan since 1973 and is a certified Kita school noh instructor.

Speaker Biography

Jannette Cheong is a poet, writer, designer, curator, and an affiliated artist with Theatre Nohgaku. Born in London, Jannette has worked nationally and internationally in higher education and has organised many international education and creative arts collaborations for 25 years. 

In terms of her noh-related work she was the first British person to write an English language noh play (Pagoda,2009) using traditional noh techniques in collaboration with Richard Emmert, the Oshima Theatre and Theatre Nohgaku. Pagoda was premiered at the Southbank Centre, London, in 2009 and toured to Dublin, Oxford and Paris. In 2011 Pagoda opened at the National Noh Theatre in Tokyo and toured to Kyoto, Beijing and Hong Kong. Related activities included collaboration with theatres, universities, schools, museums and festivals. In 2017 Jannette co-produced ‘Noh time like the present…’ an acclaimed tribute to professional noh actor Akira Matsui with Richard Emmert and Unanico Group, at LSO St Luke’s, London. The programme included her cross-cultural collaboration piece (Opposites-InVerse) witten specially for Akira Matsui. 

This work combines noh (Akira Matsui) with contempory ballet (Peter Leung, contemporary ballet dancer and choreographer). Jannette’s noh-style text is composed and musically perfomed as noh by Richard Emmert (composer and noh flutist) together with noh instrumentalists Eitaro Okura and Kayu Omura, and (although could be sung as noh) at the LSO it was sung by opera vocalists Li Meili (Countertenor) and Piran Legg (Baritone). 

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