Follow @A1000Cranes Follow @A1000Cranes

About Us

A Thousand Cranes was founded by director and writer Vicky Ireland and performer Kumiko Mendl in 2006 to creatively diversify UK Children’s touring theatre , bringing the extraordinary and fascinating stories, traditions, art forms and artists of Japan to young audiences.

Our first show, “Tales from Old Japan”, was developed for “AsobiI!” a Japanese family event at artsdepot. Hugely successful, we continue to perform it in repertoire.

We have since created 4 productions each having 2 or 3 tours, performing over 240 shows across 45 venues to over 15,000 children and their families.

In October 2009 we were made an Artistic Associate of artsdepot.


Kumiko ALRACo-Artistic Director Kumiko Mendl 

Kumiko Mendl graduated with a BA Hons in Education Studies and trained at the Jacques Lecoq Theatre School in Paris. Since then she has worked as an actor, teacher, director and storyteller.

She has continued to freelance throughout her 30 years in theatre and acted at the National Theatre, Northampton Royal, The Gate, Young Vic,Polka Theatre, Tara Arts, and LIFT as well as run numerous outreach and participatory projects for Museums & Heritage organisations, schools, colleges and arts organisations.

She is one of the five founding members of Yellow Earth Theatre, the UK’s award winning British East Asian Theatre company.  She has performed and directed for the company and became Yellow Earth’s Education and Outreach Associate in 2004 and in 2011 she became Artistic Director of the company.



Vicky at conference

Co-Artistic Director Vicky Ireland

Vicky Ireland MBE.

Vicky trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and then worked as an actress in TIE and repertory theatres all over Britain. She presented BBC’s TV’s Words and Pictures for twelve years. From 1989 to 2002 she was Artistic Director of Polka Theatre for Children, London and is now a freelance director and writer.

She was awarded an MBE in 2002 for services to children’s drama, the first of its kind.

In 2001, Vicky was a guest of the Japan Foundation and ASSITEJ Japan to study  Children’s Theatre and primary education in Tokyo and Osaka.

She is Vice Chair of ACA (Action for Children’s Arts), Patron of Polka Theatre and was made an Honorary member of ASSITEJ UK (the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People) in 2014.


Associate Artists:

Julian Butler

Haruka Kuroda

Norifumi Hida