Welcome to Stan's Cafe

Book Royalties

April 20th, 2018

The publishers Bloomsbury have a series of tabs at the top of their website to steer visitors towards the category of book they are searching for: Fiction, Non-fiction, Academic, Children’s and Harry Potter. What an unbelievable cash cow that young wizard must be for everyone involved!

We’ve just received the first royalty cheque from our very own cash gerbil Devising Theatre With Stan’s Cafe. It may not have been a big cheque, but it was a good feeling to know the book is out there being bought and (hopefully) read.

Given that we are currently being undercut by our own publishers and assuming that for such books sales tail off rather than snowball, we have perhaps had the best of things financially; nevertheless we will continue to reap practical benefits as those eager students who regularly email us asking ‘how do you get your ideas?’ or ‘how do you devise your shows?’ can now be pointed to the book rather than having to be written more bespoke answers and pointed towards our magical Harry Potter Helpful Things tab.

This

April 13th, 2018

This – a new performance from Tate n Lyle on Vimeo.

One privilege I have is that people often invite me to art stuff and occasionally I am able to attend. Yesterday at DanceXchange a duo called Timber and Battery shared a work they have in progress called This. Avid followers of this blog will know that I have reservations about the ‘WiP’ concept but this was fun and very much resembled a finished performance.

This is currently a 30-40 minutes long structured improvisation in which two performers explore the fabric and function of two fold-away tables. A time-lapse video (posted above) gives you some sense of what happens but also completely misrepresents the piece.

As audience members we are free to explore, to watch from a distance or come close and inspect how the mass produced objects have gained individuality through use. The performers help us study each table’s detail, the rivets, the hinges, the caps, coated metal and polymer. We have demonstrated to us each table’s geometry, its balance points, movements, squeaks and judders. We watch with concern as the material limits of each table are tested in ways the designers and manufacturers can never have imagined them being tested.

This stripped-down, performance style with its limited vocabulary of isolated words “this”, “that”, “here” is direct and engaging, bringing to mind the playful work of one of my performance heroes Gary Stevens. With the occasional lull I enjoyed This very much.

Afterwards there was a bit of a chat with the artist for which four of us audience stayed to contribute our observations. If This comes near you I’d urge you to see it and tell me what you think.

A Capital Image

April 11th, 2018

As much as we’d love to think of our shows exclusively as works of art they are also inescapably products. These products need to be sold, to sell them they must be described and describing them can be difficult, especially when the shows have yet to be made.

We recently faced this challenge describing our new show THE CAPITAL. Tickets have just gone on sale for premiere performances at The REP in October so back in March and early April we were focused on describing the show for prospective audiences using just 150 words and an image.

With an unmade show this process of description becomes a part of its making. Our responses to different drafts of text and image teach us what we do and don’t want this embryonic show to become.

In the first of a three part series about ‘marketing as making’ Simon Ford gives us a generous insight into the steps and missteps, cul-de-sacs and leaps of inspiration that took him from Graeme Braidwood’s photo of Amy to an image that we are happy describes an aspect of THE CAPITAL as we wish it to be. To read his ‘entertaining and informative essay’, follow this link.

You can see what The REP made of our text and image by following this link to their website.

Sustainable Development Goals

March 25th, 2018

Global Festival of Action took place earlier this week in the modestly titled World Conference Centre, which is a beautiful facility built in Bonn as home of the West German parliament just before reunification moved parliament to Berlin. Last year this was the Global Festival of Ideas but now is deemed time for action.

Delegates gathered from around the world and the opening plenary session reinforced a message that this was to be a festival not a conference. Alongside official welcomes from representatives of the German Government, City of Bonn and United Nations we were led in a bout of meditation and a somewhat self-conscious few minutes clapping along with a beatboxer whilst ‘making some noise’ for Y? (a very friendly and enthusiastic rapper from NYC). There were numerous exhortations to blitz Social Media with ‘our message’ and to encourage us Yusuf Omar, a very high energy young man from Hashtag Our Stories demonstrated how it only takes 60 seconds to shoot, edit and post a video on a phone in order to our ‘message out’ there. It was dazzling display achieved on a phone considerably more powerful than mine.
Continue reading “Sustainable Development Goals” »

Creative Learning Recruitment

March 17th, 2018

Moon_Landings_Project

With a busy term of work planned for summer 2018 we are recruiting five part-time freelance Creative Learning Associates to deliver a range of exciting projects in primary and secondary schools. We are looking for a variety of practitioners with specialisms including maths, drama, costume making and poetry and makers/sculptors.

To find our more about these roles and the particular projects please download the Creative Learning Associate Summer Call Out information sheet HERE.

To apply please send a C.V. and a covering letter explaining your interest in and suitability for the role(s), to our Creative Learning Producer – Lucy Nicholls, via email: lucy@stanscafe.co.uk.

Please also complete and send the equal opportunities monitoring form available HERE on our website.

The closing date for applications is Thursday 5th April, 6pm. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to attend a workshop on Monday 16th April.

You can discover more about the history and range of our Creative Learning work by visiting the Education and Training section of our website HERE

We look forward to hearing from you.

Unlocking Anti-Semitism

March 8th, 2018

On Tuesday, Darius Jackson from the University College London, Centre for Holocaust Education, came to Saltley Academy and lead a twilight teacher training session called Unlocking Anti-Semitism. He was there because we are about to start working on The Merchant of Venice with the English Department and Year 8 students and it seemed sensible for us to arm ourselves with a bit of knowledge about the history of Anti-Semitism before we start. Continue reading “Unlocking Anti-Semitism” »

Black Men Walking in Coventry + Choke

February 19th, 2018

Coventry is already reaping a dividend from its forthcoming City of Culture status: it’s become a Stan’s Cafe theatrical destination of choice. Last week we were there to see Graeme surfing Chris O’Connell’s script in the Theatre Absolute production Choke and the week before two trips went to the Belgrade Studio to see Tyrone Huggins in Black Men Walking presented by Eclipse Theatre. Both trips reminded me how much I like going to the theatre. Continue reading “Black Men Walking in Coventry + Choke” »

Translanguaging

January 28th, 2018

On Friday I learned that Translanguaging is a term for communication that involves slipping between languages both verbal and visual. On Friday in an outhouse of Aston Hall I joined artists from a range of disciplines to learn about a research project investigating Translanguaging conducted by academics from a number of British Universities. Each academic had just 15 minutes to share with us a sample of their research. We watched a video of a butcher at Birmingham indoor market engaging with a customer who wants to buy some pork belly. We studied a short transcript of a consultation in which a Polish(?) speaker is helped through an application for disability benefit. We listened to an audio recording of a football coach run through a warm up routine with some young children and another recording of someone explaining their plans to start up a Polish Cafe in Leeds(?). Finally we conducted a textural analysis of a text message conversation that switches between Chinese and English. Continue reading “Translanguaging” »

Building Resilience #2

January 24th, 2018

September was Salford and January has just been Bristol. At We The Curious we, a bunch of curious arts organisations, learned more about resilience at the feet of Arts Manager International. Last year we were tutored in the fundraising cycle, this year it was about board development, individual and corporate giving.

First up was Michael Kaiser, using as series of great stories to illustrate his learning points, stories of running a Ballet Company in Cowboy country (Kansas City), brokering a ludicrously high profile series of marketing opportunities for the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, traumatic board meetings early in his tenure at The Royal Opera House and getting ambitious at the Kennedy Center. Continue reading “Building Resilience #2” »

Reshuffle Pt 1 – 3

January 9th, 2018

Part 1
Matthew Hancock, appointed on Tuesday, is now the ninth Secretary of State to be custodian of Culture in under eleven years. See how many of these you recognise:

Jeremy Hunt was David Cameron’s first Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, remember how he was lightening quick to offer his department up to the treasury in the first round of ‘austerity’ cuts. Presumably this showed he was made of the right stuff as he soon got whisked off to become Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. In this case ‘soon’ was after 2 years 4 months in the job, which makes him comfortably the longest serving Culture Secretary since Tessa Jowell who served six years under Tony Blair (Gordon Brown ripped through James Purnell, Andy Burnham and Ben Bradshaw in a fraction under three years). Continue reading “Reshuffle Pt 1 – 3” »


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