Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

BCMG Family Concert

March 2nd, 2015

bcmg-at-barber

Over the last two evenings we have been in the amazing deco setting of the Barber Institute Concert Hall listening to the amazing players of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group work through early rehearsals for the pieces that they will be playing as part of their family concert on Sunday. It’s been a treat, like private concerts with the added bonus of the conductor Christopher Austin tweak their performance to the shape he wishes. It’s soothing listening to the music and soothing to have a rehearsal going on that you have no responsibility for.

Our job, as ever, is to add a bit of theatrical flare to the concert proceedings without distracting too much from the music. We have a few ideas up our sleeves including the idea of teaming up with Paul Gaffney, a fantastic photographer whose specialism is sets of photographs taken on extended walks. He has produced a great set of new images especially for this concert and is also kindly allowing us to use his acclaimed series We Make The Path By Walking and another as yet unreleased series shot by moonlight. Next Monday, after two schools concerts, Paul will be giving a talk about his work at Library of Birmingham (18:00 -19:30) who, along with GRAIN have co-commissioned this new set of images.

We have a break tomorrow, then on Wednesday we focus in on our plans quite intently. Thursday is set aside for a bit of technical prep and work from us. On Friday it’s music and theatre. Saturday evening is a dress rehearsal and Sunday we fix everything that will be wrong with the dress rehearsal and perform at 11:30 and 14:00 before having a little lie down.

The Mystery

February 17th, 2015

toronto33

So on Friday night I saw The Cardinals for what may prove to be the last time. I’m back at Heathrow now, don’t do the Australian leg of the tour and there are currently no performances booked beyond that.

Obviously I would love the show to continue on for many more years, but if does have to end here then so be it, I would be content that the piece had a decent run and grew to be a strong work of art. Our experience in Toronto has confirmed this for me. Continue reading “The Mystery” »

Cardinals Revisited

February 11th, 2015

ohio-theatre

It was great to catch up with The Cardinals in Columbus Ohio. The show was at the Wexner Arts Center, which is on the Ohio State University Campus. The theatre is a vast place, so big that for shows like ours, the curtains are closed and a seating bank is built on the stage. It was intriguing to see the shifts the show has made in my absence and through multiple performances. Continue reading “Cardinals Revisited” »

Rowena Wilding

February 8th, 2015

rowena-in-officeAs I mentioned in an earlier post ‘the Charlotte Martin Decade’ has drawn to a close at Stan’s Cafe and there is a cheery new presence at mission control. We no longer have a General Manager; we have a less general Administrator and in April we will be joined by a rather more executive Producer. Continue reading “Rowena Wilding” »

Geoff Sims

January 24th, 2015

It was with great sadness I learned late last week that Geoff Sims has died. Geoff was Director of mac birmingham when Stan’s Cafe first made contact with the venue in 1991. He was always very supportive to us, as he was to very many people. He was a warm and generous person who I was always very pleased to bump into in and around Birmingham’s arts scene – particularly at mac.

Dorothy Wilson’s Obituary for her friend and colleague filled in many details of Geoff’s professional life and confirmed what a great contribution he made to the region’s artistic community. There is an opportunity to celebrate this contribution through contributions to a Photographic Fund started by mac birmingham in his honour (email nicola.saunders@macbirmingham.co.uk for details).

Geoff Sims (1944 – 2014) RIP

Live from NYC

January 16th, 2015

Live coverage from the Foyer of The Public Theatre, New York City. Don’t miss any of the action. Web casting 23:30 – 03:30.

When is Boring Not?

January 15th, 2015

Tomorrow The Commentators return. This time they are ‘stateside’ for their first American engagement since the heady days of the original New York Cosmos – Pele, Beckenbauer et al. On Friday they will bringing eager listeners all the comings, goings and lingerings in the Foyer of The Public Theater, Manhattan. Due to the time difference UK listeners will have to tune in between 23:30 and 03:30 GMT to catch the action live as it happens (the link will be on this homepage).

Fans of The Commentators may also be interested in the television broadcasts which are the subject of the TED talk linked to above.

War or Peace?

January 15th, 2015

NYC-getinAh it’s starting to feel like the olden days. The days when we made shows that sharply divided audiences (mostly for us) from critics (mostly against). Continue reading “War or Peace?” »

Celebrity Spot

January 12th, 2015

with-big-bird

I’m not a big fan of the ‘selfie’ but sometimes, for the very big feathery celebrity, exceptions have to be made. Logging into New York Public Library’s Wi-Fi on Saturday I spotted on their home page that there is currently a Sesame Street Exhibition on at their library for the Performing Arts, in the Lincon Center, so I was presented with a dilemma work in the library right through until my next appointment, or quit early and indulge in some nostalgia. Continue reading “Celebrity Spot” »

All Is Safely Gathered In

January 9th, 2015

cardinals-truck

It is here. The set has arrived at The Public Theatre. It is stored Stage Right in The Martinson (one of The Public’s five spaces) waiting for rehearsals on Sunday.

Currently set up in The Martinson is the big, double height set for Mariano Pensotti’s Cineastas, which I was enjoying very much before I fell asleep. This sounds like an indictment of the show but was my fault. In mitigation, it was warm, dark, 1am in UK time, the third show of the day, fairly demanding to follow and required reading Spanish surtitles. Jetlag got me I’m afraid. I was enjoying it. I think it was good. I may try and see it again tonight. Continue reading “All Is Safely Gathered In” »


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