Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

Opening Nights

April 27th, 2015

We’d been waiting for 22nd April 2015 for what felt like years.

When the morning of the world premiere day finally arrives it comes as a relief, the show is what it is, the time for improvements is suspended, we just have to try and land whatever artistic summersault it is we have agreed to attempt. And of course when I say ‘we’ I mean the actors, the lighting and sound operators, everyone but me – which is why it is a relief, my role is over for a bit. I’m standing at the edge of the crash mat with a concerned look on my face. Continue reading “Opening Nights” »

Cultural Value

April 16th, 2015


So far the election campaign has the feel of a bidding war, with parties attempting to out do each other in their promises to reduce the deficit, give the NHS more and not raise taxes in any way ‘hard working families’ will notice. This equation appears to summon up the perfect storm for any public expenditure that is not ‘ring fenced’. Concerned that in this political climate the value of culture is all to easily dismissed, the Warwick Commission undertook an investigation into ‘The Future of Cultural Value’. The commission’s findings and pithy recommendations from twelve months of study were published in February hoping to influence the debates currently underway.

The list of commissioners is a stellar run-down of UK cultural VIPs, plus sneaking in at the end, adding a bit of je ne sais quoi, James Yarker. Don’t let this put you off reading the document, it really is good and I really didn’t contribute enough to spoil it in any way.

Download a PDF of the commission’s report here.

St. George’s Steps

April 14th, 2015

Photo Credit: Ming De Nasty.

Yesterday Saltley Academy started working with us on the latest edition of The Steps Series. St. George’s Steps is due for completion on 23rd April (naturally). It will look to dramatise seven moments in English history using vinyl footprints, handprints and speech bubbles to enable audiences to re-enact these scenes for themselves. The piece’s key theme is ‘British Values’. Continue reading “St. George’s Steps” »

Roisin Caffrey: Exec Producer

April 13th, 2015

Welcome Roisin

Those who follow us on Twitter will already have had a hint at our latest big breaking news. We are genuinely excited to officially welcome Roisin Caffrey to the Stan’s Cafe team.

Roisin grew up in Birmingham before going to the University of Leeds. She returned home to work at Birmingham Conservatoire and then at mac in the productions team. As well as producing independent work, she has been Administrator at Theatre-Rites, Production Assistant at the Gate Theatre Notting Hill and General Manager at Cheek by Jowl. She was Executive Producer at NIE on maternity cover before travelling to Australia to work on Darwin Festival, and has just finished working in the team producing Royal de Luxe’s visit to our friends at Perth Festival with The Giants. She will officially join Stan’s Cafe on 20th April as our first ever Executive Producer.

A quirk of timetables means Roisin was able to meet up with The Cardinals team in Adelaide – hence the photograph.


April 3rd, 2015

Ava's Wedding Scene 3 pic

So, finally the great tour of The Cardinals is over. The team have dispersed in various directions, the set is in a shipping container wending its way home and a friend on Facebook asks “is that the last ever performance?” The answer is “who knows – we hope not” because now days we regularly get the chance to see shows we had once imagined where gone, never to be seen again. Continue reading “Repertoire” »

Reciprocal Marketing

March 26th, 2015


It’s tough trying to flog a show when your budget is small and your potential audience is being shouted at constantly from all angles by other people wanting to sell them things. Reciprocal marketing is a classic free roll of the dice. The logic runs smooth: “your audience likes your theatre, maybe they’d like to hear about our theatre and similarly maybe our audience would like to hear about your theatre – you show yours ours now and we’ll show ours yours later”. Continue reading “Reciprocal Marketing” »


March 19th, 2015


We’re all familiar with the phenomena whereby something goes from invisible to jumping out at you as your interest in its category changes. You’re thinking of buying a Honda Civic and you go from never noticing them to seeing them everywhere. For me now it’s Lecterns. We need one for A Translation of Shadows. We think we will get it built, so we need to design it and now I have an intense interest in lecterns. There was a beautiful one at the Barber Institute. This one is at Saltely academy. I like it a lot but it is wider than the one we will get designed.

We are doing a big project with Saltley after easter so I put the lectern to good use introducing Stan’s Cafe to the assembled staff. As it was mock exam time the staff were all sat at individual exam desks, an unusual sight.

Today, without lectern Jack and I rehearse Making Shadows for Flatpack Film Festival which opens TODAY and as ever is full of excellent film and film related good stuff.

Bring on the Boffins

March 14th, 2015


Buried away deep in this website, visited by none but the most assiduous web crawling bot, is a bibliography. Originally put together a few years ago using slave labour from Warwick University’s Cultural Studies MA program this bibliography is an attempt to locate fleeting mentions of Stan’s Cafe in reputable publications and thus ease the lives of those students looking to back up their opinons by using someone elses’ opinions. Continue reading “Bring on the Boffins” »

Research Opportunity

March 11th, 2015

academic-recruitAlong with our Partner Schools Network we are looking to engage a researcher who is interested in how schools are responding to the government requirement that schools promote British Values. We are about to do some work in schools with this as its focus and we’d like to have someone keep tabs on reflect on this activity from an independent perspective. You can download more details including how to apply here.

BCMG Family Concert

March 2nd, 2015


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.

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