Text by Jannette Cheong
Music by Richard Emmert
The Oshima Noh Theatre of Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, and Theatre Nohgaku collaborated for the first time in a joint production in Europe in 2009. They performed the new, contemporary English-language noh play PAGODA by Jannette Cheong with music by Richard Emmert, in London and Oxford as part of the Japan-UK 150 Festival celebrations, and in Dublin and Paris in completion of a two-week tour to Europe. The tour also included “Getting to Noh” a program of public workshops, lectures, and educational activities to introduce the history, dance, music, costumes and masks of noh.
PAGODA is a contemporary noh play rooted in the story of the author’s grandmother, who, to avoid the famine that ravaged China’s rural areas in the 1920s, sent her youngest son away to sea when he was a young boy; he never returned. After his death in London in the 1970s, Ms. Cheong herself made the journey to China to find her father’s birthplace. Her experiences, at once both tragic and uplifting, are combined with an ancient Chinese legend to form the basis of this noh-structured play.
This was the first time that these two companies produced and performed a new English-language noh play. And though W.B. Yeats wrote plays that were later adapted for noh in Japan, this was the first time for a strictly English-language noh play written by a British playwright to have been produced in Europe as a fully realized noh performance.
In 2011 the Oshima's again joined Theatre Nohgaku for a successful tour of Asia, including performances in Tokyo, Kyoto, Beijing and Hong Kong.
Photograph ©2009 Clive Barda. Used by permission.
Please download the tour report below: