Welcome to Stan's Cafe

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” »

Job Opportunity Project Manager

January 5th, 2018

It’s almost a secret but for nearly a year we’ve been running twin after-school Drama Clubs in East Birmingham, one in Saltley Academy and one in Washwood Heath Academy. Last summer they came together to perform Us and Them by David Campton.

This year Drama Club will be devising its own original production, plus there will be a stand-alone Easter Holiday Drama Week also in East Birmingham. We are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic freelance Project Manager to logistically deliver the twin Drama Club production and the Easter holiday drama week.

Drama Club is part of a wider audience development project Stan’s Cafe is undertaking in Washwood Heath and offers the opportunity to be part of a creative and inspirational project for young people in the area.

Find out more and download the job description here. Applications close on Monday 22nd January 5pm and interviews will be held on Wednesday 31st January for shortlisted candidates.

Please submit a CV, plus a completed equal opportunities monitoring form and covering letter explaining why you’re suitable for the role to lucy@stanscafe.co.uk.

Resolute

December 30th, 2017

Andrei Tarkovsky’s final film The Sacrifice opens with its main character planting a thin barren tree, he is helped by a small mute child to whom he tells a story of a monk who does the same thing and asks his novice to water the tree every day until it comes to life. After three years of daily watering with no apparent reward, suddenly the novice discovers the tree covered in blossom. Alexander goes on to propose that doing the same thing at the same time every day, no matter what that action is, must change the world in some way. The small mute child is seen through the course of the film lugging a bucket of water to their tree.

This discipline of doing something every day of the year has been much on my mind lately. I’m a big fan of resolutions – New Year and other kinds. I don’t hold to the cynical defeatist stance that resolutions are always broken so making them is pointless. It’s not true all resolutions are broken and those that are must remain held for some time and are worth the resolve for the time that they are led. I believe in redemption and new starts.

Last year my resolutions were to run more and read more, both were achieved but neither was an ‘every day’ resolution.

The Godfather of ‘doing something every day’ is Tehching Hsieh, whose legendary One Year Performances I find inspirational for life, work and the combination of the two.

This year I am not competing with Tehching Hsieh but choosing three very small ‘every day’ resolutions. Last year’s resolutions are now life-style habits so they no longer count as resolutions. A more ad hoc resolution will be to re-watch all seven canonical Andrei Tarkovsky films – anyone who wants to join me in this is very welcome it will change the world in some way.

Life changing opportunity?

December 4th, 2017

You don’t have to dig very far into the history of Stan’s Cafe to find an acknowledgement of the influence of the artist/director Robert Wilson. A BBC Arena documentary showing clips of Wilson’s early works was an early inspiration and Stefan Brecht’s book about this work ‘Theatre of Visions‘ added to the mystique.

Since then Wilson has worked prolifically in opera, theatre and installations and set up what looks like a remarkable performance center (they say Center we say Centre – let’s call the whole thing…) in upstate New York dedicated to making new art. The Watermill Center has just opened applications for it’s annual Summer Program which, if you are a young artist working in almost any field, I insist you look at carefully as it represents an absolutely extraordinary opportunity. You work for a month in the summer with artists from around the world, there are lectures and workshops and practical opportunities galore – you need to pay for your travel there and back but the residency itself is free and accommodation and food are both provided free as well. The competition to get a place must be very fierce but who knows… someone must get on… in fact +80 someones get on each year, why not you?

What an experience it would be, honestly it would change your life – Watermill Center Summer Program

Time In Time Critical

November 17th, 2017

Traditionally theatre is a place set apart from the tyranny of time. Once ‘the curtain goes up’ at the advertised time and ‘latecomers’ have been admitted or repulsed, chronological time is banished, we are free to be suspended out of time, removed to another era, shuttled backwards and forwards through the ages. In the theatre we are released from temporal concerns; except of course we’re not.

The human bladder is resistant to theatre’s temporal slight of hand, the bum cheeks ditto. Last trains, last buses, last orders and expiring parking meters all remain resolutely rooted in a steadily marching ‘here and now’, dragging us back to glance at our ticking watches in the auditorium’s gloom. Even without these humdrum nagging externalities time is still free to torment us in the theatre; surely genuine prisoners can be no more acutely confronted by time’s implacability than the inmates of a dull theatre show. Continue reading “Time In Time Critical” »

Training

November 7th, 2017

In recent weeks we have been back working with our friends at Theater Bonn. You may have seen in the news that Bonn is hosting a big United Nations Climate Change conference. More correctly they are co-hosting it with Fiji whose infrastructure wasn’t well suited to accommodating the thousands of delegates and attendant media, activists Etc. Anyway, there is a big Climate Change conference in Bonn, we were asked if we had an idea to contribute, we did, they liked it, we made it, it’s called What When and it’s currently sat in a park that forms the campus for the conference. Continue reading “Training” »

Map Script

November 6th, 2017

Today is the first day of the 2017 Time Critical tour. We are pleased to be opening up at the New Adelphi Theatre, Salford University with the show, two workshops and a post-show discussion. In addition to this I am unreasonably excited that we will also be unveiling, hot off the press, the Time Critical Map of The World. Continue reading “Map Script” »

Our 1000th blog post!

October 29th, 2017

Time Critical (trailer) from Stans Cafe on Vimeo.

It’s amazing how quickly I forget how much I love being in the rehearsal room with Stan’s Cafe. Each time I return it is full of anxiety and self-doubt, but subtly I become lost in the collective challenge of making the show as good as we possibly can and I’m in my element. Last week was a complete treat. We’ve been reviving and remaking Time Critical; we’ve driven it into the garage, got it up on the ramp, taken it apart, changed some parts, polished up other bits, tuned it up and by the end of next week it will be revved up and waiting to go.
Continue reading “Our 1000th blog post!” »

How to launch a book.

October 29th, 2017

The official launch of Devising Theatre With Stan’s Cafe was a proud and long anticipated day.

For many years ‘the Stan’s Cafe book’ held a place in our forward planning but practicalities meant it always retreated into that future at exactly the same pace as the present advanced, so the book never grew closer.

Our principle impediment was the lack of a suitable collaborator to actually write the damn thing. We needed someone who knew our work well and who would share our vision for a highly accessible book, a ‘page turner’ if possible, pitching not at stratospheric levels of esoteric abstraction but at undergraduates, theatre makers and theatre fans. Our ambition was to produce a book that would be read and loved, be passed from hand to hand, grow scruffy and battered. Continue reading “How to launch a book.” »

Culture Feast

October 26th, 2017

The Stan’s Cafe team likes to support our colleagues in the theatre industry, especially if this means seeing work by other companies. We’re lucky to have such a great variety of theatre so close by.

What we see less of is work in other art forms. Sometimes this is a time thing – there is a lot of theatre to see after all – but sometimes it’s because we are less familiar with visual arts, contemporary music or dance and we don’t know how to navigate what’s on offer quite so deftly.

In recent conversations with arts organisations across Birmingham it’s become clear that lots of other people feel the same way and as a result we’re all missing out on some fantastic work. So, together with five other arts organisations in the city we have created Culture Feast, a series of six events that encompasses theatre, dance, visual arts and music – all of which can be accessed with a single £25 ticket.

Our guess is that if you are adventurous enough to follow Stan’s Cafe you will be curious enough to enjoy the work that our colleagues have to offer you in their disciplines and that their audience will take the plunge to visit our next production Time Critical.

Having a Culture Feast ticket is a little bit like travelling Business Class to the six specially-selected events, but with the novel twist that it’s cheaper than Economy Class! As a Culture Feast ticket-holder you will be welcomed to each event by a member of the host’s team and afterwards you get to let it all sink in with an “audience exchange” in which you can chat to fellow Culture Feast visitors about what you’ve experienced (like a “book group” but with “contemporary arts” instead of the books).

The first set of Culture Feast events starts with our production of Time Critical at mac, and continues with a dance show from DanceXchange, a videogame with live orchestra at Town Hall, the outstanding talent of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and exclusive guided tours of Digbeth First Friday and Ikon.

We’re really excited to be part of such an interesting and wide-ranging programme.

There will be future editions of Culture Feast, featuring a whole new set of organisations and events so watch this space.

Full details of the programme and tickets are available here: culturefeast.org

We hope to see you here there and everywhere.


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