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Stan’s Cafe Recruiting: General Manager

March 13th, 2020

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Disappointingly, we have – with our board – decided that in the current global situation we are going to suspend recruitment of the post of General Manager. We will wait for a few months to see how the situation develops and what the best course of action is within its context. We will contact everyone who has applied or enquired about the job individually, and we will share updates as soon as we can.

Keep safe and well and keep looking out for each other.

We’re looking for a full-time General Manager to join our team. The General Manager is the lynchpin of Stan’s Cafe, managing artistic projects, marketing and our core financial and operational functions. We are looking for someone friendly and adaptable, who is interested in all aspects of running a contemporary performance company.

You may not currently work in the theatre sector but will be passionate about supporting artists to create new work, and in developing and maintaining the organisational structures in order for that to happen.

Our Executive Producer, Roisin, has made a short video with her thoughts on why this is an exciting role: LINK.

She is also available for informal, confidential conversations, if you feel that would be beneficial before you apply: roisin@stanscafe.co.uk

Important information about the salary:
The salary range we are advertising is wide: £24,000 – £32,000 per year. We recognize that this role is varied and that you may be an outstanding candidate without experience of every element. Therefore, we remain keen to hear from you if you feel you have some relevant experience, you enjoy variety and you are committed to learning new things that you can put into practice in this job. If you require support in particular elements of the job, we will commit to using some of the budget for this role for professional support and training. Ultimately, we want to enable you to fulfil all elements of the job description and we will pre-agree the objectives to which your salary increases will be linked, as you develop your skills in the role.

Download the job pack to find out more, in PDF format or Word format.

Applications close at midday on Wednesday 8 April .
First round interviews will be held on Tuesday 21 April.

To apply, please submit a CV, a cover letter (no longer than 2 sides; answering the 3 questions outlined in the job pack) and the downloadable equal opportunities and data protection forms to admin@stanscafe.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you!

Definitive Versions

February 19th, 2020

It’s ten years since we last performed Home Of The Wriggler. One of the original cast now lives in Los Angeles, another is acting for the RSC and another has just delivered her latest book to the publisher’s deadline. We have three new faces in the team, except Amy Ann Haigh stepped in for one of those three in the very last performances in Beijing and Hema Mangoo was part of the team that make our last show, The Capital. It’s only Carys Jones who is new new. Craig Stephens of course is our constant, the only person to perform in this show every time its ever been staged.

in 1999 we restaged Impact Theatre’s seminal show, The Carrier Frequency. The process took two weeks. In the first week everyone copied performances directly off a video recording we had of the original show. Then, in the second week, they tried to forget that video and those performers that came before and make the performances their own.

Our process here is a little different, partly because so much of the show springs form script not images. We did watch a recording of the original cast performing Home Of The Wriggler just to steal things we like on the understanding we could ignore things we didn’t like so much. I spent the first week reminding myself this cast isn’t doing it ‘wrongly’ they’re just doing it ‘differently’. Now, this week, I’ve forgotten the original team (no offence intended) this is now just the team.

It’s tricky taking a video as a definitive documentation of a show – as we found when bringing The Capital back to life after just a few months break. The performance you video is taken as definitive but it may be ‘a-typical’, it may contain mistakes or anomalies. In our case it is usually logistically much easier to shoot the dress rehearsal or at the first venue – but this is before the show has had a chance to mature.

The performance of Home Of The Wriggler we watched on video was eighty minutes long and today’s run was just seventy one minutes and it feels much better for being that much more pacy. I can’t wait to share this new interpretation of this popular old show with audiences both old and new.

Grey Rock

January 31st, 2020

GREY ROCK from Alexandra Aron on Vimeo.

Last night I fell in love with a play. It took my completely off-guard, I wasn’t looking for love, it just happened. There is a story and it is beguilingly simple. In his grief a widower in Palestine decides to build a rocket in his shed to go to the moon, he is aided by a delivery boy enmoured of his daughter, both his daughter and his nephew point out his plan is crazy but are won around. This daughter’s fiancé is never won around and they split up; that’s it but I love everything about it.

The script is smart and witty and poetic, it weaves together physics with love with the politics of Palestine and reflections on the Apollo programme. This mission to the moon will bring Palestine respect around the world and prove that its people are capable of great things. Of course the whole construction process is clandestine with the threat of security forces swooping to hault the project at any moment.

The cast of characters are highly sypathetic and engaging (even the fiancé), fable like in their service to the narrative and yet also humane. In tune with the rest of the production the staging is elegant in its economy and simplicity. The status of the rocket is always ambigously help so we neither believe nor discount its existence nor its capacity to fly until the final soliloquy.

Layered on top of all these pleasures is the fact that this production is performed in English by non-native English speakers with occasional splashes of Arabic. They do an amazing job and yet of course their inflections and emphasis are unusual, I loved this as much as anything about the play and production. The result is a form of Brechtian effect where you a more conscious of the script and the acting than you would otherwise be. You aren’t complacent in your listening, you aren’t drawn in so much and yet the caracters still live, somehow it fits perfectly with the play’s quality as a parable.

I should probably stop now. Grey Rock seems to be touring a lot in the US at the moment. I hope it will come to the UK and if it does, please go to see it, I’m sure you will fall in love too.

Seize the moment!

January 13th, 2020

Sometimes opportunities crop up at the last minute and have to be grabbed. In the midst of the whirl of spinning cranes that is the white hot redevelopment area of Nine Elms, just up stream from Vauxhall Bridge, sits an enormous single story warehouse with beautiful polished concrete floor. After years of being used for film shoots and fashion shows, as a rehearsal space for opening ceremonies and a car park for NATO leader limousines this former Post Office delivery centre is due for demolition. But before it goes Wandsworth Council have leapt in. Prompted by his enterprising arts team, the council leader asked where the local community benefit was from these high roller events and in response the doors have been opened for a free public event.

The Mail Centre Takover promises to be a fantastically balanced event. One one side of the warehouse The Actual Reality Arcade is being installed by artist Matthew Harrison and his team. This takes old style arcade games, such as Tetris, Pacman and Space Invaders and re-imagines them as if in a School Summer Fayre – as gloriously analogue as can be. On the other side of the room we’re counting out 6.7 tons of rice to represent a vast array of human population statistics.

With 6.7 tons we have one grain of rice for everyone in the UK and USA combined. As this venue is in the shadow of the new US Embassy and 2020 sees the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing across the Atlantic, we thought US / UK would be a interesting theme to mix in with statistics representing life in Wandwsorth and London, current affairs and historical links. We have a team of six setting up the show and four will run the show from Wednesday 15 January – Sunday 26 January (but not on Monday 20 or Tuesday 21).

We are very much looking forward to seeing how audiences move between the two installations. It should be a great fortnight in a formerly inaccessible corner of the capital. It would be wonderful if you and your family and friends could join us.

Casting Call

November 25th, 2019

Our show Home Of The Wriggler is going out on tour again in February and we’re looking for two actors to join us for the revival. We made the show back in late 2005, inspired by the community around Birmingham’s Longbridge car factory. We were interested the many lives woven together by the factory, its history and community. We were also interested in the idea of a ‘post-oil’ world. These two concerns led to a show in which a cast of four act out and narrate an episode from a vast soap opera featuring dozens of characters in a mosaic of fragmentary scenes whilst powering the lights live on stage using stationary bikes and hand-cranks.

It was a demanding show to perform but the team enjoyed it. When Amanda wasn’t available for then UK tour Bharti took her place and when Heather couldn’t go with the show to Beijing we auditioned dozens of young women and found Amy, who has worked with us regularly ever since. Now we are auditioning again for two female actors one early 20s the other 40+. We are particularly interested in performers with South Asian heritage – due to characters reprented in the play. Further details, including dates and how to apply can be downloaded here.

There was an elegant symetry to the coincidence that the last performances of Home Of The Wriggler were in China where the MG Rover plant ended up. We’re destroying that symetry because now more old car factories are threatened with closure and ‘post-oil’ has become ‘zero-carbon’, it feels like Wriggler time again.

PS: Although cars badged MG are again being built in Longbridge thier ‘revival’ is of a different nature to ours. When MG Rover Group went into administration the MG brand identity was its major asset and this was sold to SAIC Motor (a Chinese state owned car manufacturer). MG is back at Longbridge but it is a different company. Home of the Wriggler is back and it’s still Stan’s Cafe.

Got to love Fierce!

October 17th, 2019

Fierce Festival 2005: The Great Swallow, Benjamin Verdonck from Fierce Festival TV on Vimeo.

Last night I was privileged to be part of In Many Hands a performance conceived by Kate McIntosh and mostly performed by its audience. The premise is fantastically simple – a group of people sit side by side at a long table and pass materials down a line to each other – the unfolding and execution of the idea is very elegant and the choice of materials assured. The minimalism of event allows us, even forces us to think about our relationship with objects, the materiality of materials, the distinction between sight and touch, nature and modern humanity.

Hold on, and extraordinary piece of international performance art, happening in Birmingham, could it be Fierce! time again?

It surely is.

Continue reading “Got to love Fierce!” »

New office and new Fierce Festival

October 9th, 2019

I know, that’s a cool urban view isn’t it. Well, it’s a view from our new office. Those with a good knowledge of Birmingham’s City Centre can probably get a fix on its location from Selfridges on the right, Carrs Lane Church to its left and Digbeth’s railway line to the left. To learn more about what’s going on read on… Continue reading “New office and new Fierce Festival” »

Mutually Exclusive Worlds?

September 22nd, 2019

On Friday I met with a PhD student from Japan who has been drawn to Britain to study the plays of Simon Stephens. Prior to arriving in this country her principle connection with British theatre had been through streamed performances such as NT Live but, eager to stretch her knowledge and experience theatre beyond the London stage, she has chosen to study in Birmingham and travel around the country. From these explorations she has developed an informal thesis which she wanted to test out on me. It seems to her that in Britain there is a theatre world in which playwrights write plays that are then staged under the direction of directors and that there is another world in which plays are devised altogether more collectively and that these worlds have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Continue reading “Mutually Exclusive Worlds?” »

The Commentators live from MoFo

August 31st, 2019

The Commentators on Mixlr

It’s that time of year again – the cricket season is nearly over, the football season is well underway, suitcases are being unpacked, school bags are being repacked, leaves are beginning to turn, the nights are drawing in, there’s a chill in the evening air and from all over the world musicians and artists gather in a park in the heart of Birmingham to perform at the Moseley Folk and Arts Festival. The festival know that not everyone can attend in person and so again this year have hired the services of The Commentators who will be broadcasting live on Saturday and Sunday to bring you all the sights, sounds and picnic smells from the heart of the festival site.

It’s the perfect way to say goodbye to the summer…listen on the player above or click on the link to visit The Commentators mixlr page.

Heavy Activist Rice

August 18th, 2019

When staging Of All The People In All The World on foreign shores we always have at least a ton of rice on our rider. It’s not very rock-and-roll but when you’re building an installation that converts human population statistics into grains of rice it is necessary.

In truth we are starting to sound ever more like theatre’s answer to Celine Dion as we get ever more particular about the exact kind of rice we require. We use a grains-per-gram equation to help us ‘count’ large numbers and so, a few years ago, had to throw an hysterical strop when a venue supplied us with broken rice. Rice with a high proportion of broken grains is significantly cheaper than standard rice but we rely on a high proportion of whole grains to be confident in our counting strategy. Continue reading “Heavy Activist Rice” »

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