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C90 Qawwali: Emperor In Birmingham

October 31st, 2021

September 1980 singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sings Qawwali to a packed audience of dispirited factory workers in the Luxor Cinema, Stratford Road. Their fervent response pushes the soon to be legendary singer and his band to transcendental new heights, a vortex opens in space and time and everyone steps through.

C90 Qawwali: Emperor in Birmingham follows a pair of third generation Kashmiri Brummies as they circle the city’s ring road seeking to reopen that lost vortex.

Expect imagery and music, social history, pathos and some humour.

Saturday 20 November at 14:00 and 16:00
Purbanat’s Studio, 49-55 Golden Hillock Road, Birmingham, B10 0JU
Tickets free but please book in advance.

We are delighted to announce our artistic team:

Tas Bashir: Artist (Co-Director)
Gerard Bell: Actor
Nafeesa Hameed: Poet (Assistant Director)
Rupinder Kaur: Actor & Poet
Murad Khan: Writer founder Purbanat.
Muhibb Nazir: Actor
Rachel Sambrooks: Actor & Poet
Dominic Thompson: Actor & Director of Gritty Theatre
Michael Valentine West: Musician
James Yarker: (Co-Director).

All Our Money (early version)

October 30th, 2021

Each year Birmingham City Council spends more than £3,000,000,000. Where does all this money come from and how do they decide where it all goes?

We’re dramatising Birmingham City Council’s budget setting process in a show called All Our Money. This is the second show we’re making in the first three weeks of November. It’s going to be fast, funny, touching and informative. We promise you won’t see any graphs and you probably won’t even hear any numbers.

If you are at all sceptical we can turn all this into an entertaining treat we’d like point out that The Just Price Of Flowers, our explanation of the 2008 financial crisis, was one of our most popular shows and Of All The People In All The World, our dramatisation of human population statistics, has been touring for 18 years. Keep the faith and please come along to:

Saturday 13 November at 14:00 and 16:00
Great Western Arcade, Birmingham, B2 5HU
Tickets free but please book in advance.

We are delighted to announce our artistic team:

Aaron Corbett: Actor and Writer
Will Jackson: Actor and theatre maker
Owen Harper: Director of 10 Minutes Late Theatre (Assistant Director here)
Lisa McKinley: Actor and Facilitator
Katie Utting: Actor
Elexi Walker Actor and Voice over Artist
James Yarker: Director.

Precious Emily (early version)

October 29th, 2021

Precious Mckenzie became a weightlifting legend when, after an extraordinary childhood in apartheid blighted South Africa, he emigrated to England and won four consecutive Gold Medals in the Commonwealth Gold Medals.

Fifty years later, Emily Campbell steps onto the Olympic stage and, in a moment described by The Guardian as “surely [the] most powerful, heartwarming and potentially life-changing story of these Games”, she lifted more than any British woman has ever lifted before.

Next week we are spending five days making a theatre show about these two wonderful athletes and the inspiration they give us when it comes to lifting up heavy things.

This will be our first bi-lingual show as, with the support and guidance of DeafExplorer, our cast mixes deaf and hearing actors. British Sign Language will be integrated into the performance with the aspiration that formal interpretation won’t be required.

Tickets are free but are limited so please book in advance. We hope to see you…

Precious Emily (early version)
Saturday 6 November 14:00 & 16:00
Oakdale Centre, Umberslade Road, B29 7SB
Tickets Free (book in advance)

We are delighted to announce our artistic team for Precious Emily:

  • Rosie Baggott: Actor, weightlifter, yoga instructor.
  • Emily Davies: Stage manager.
  • Orique Johnson: A man of many talents, here he’s the musician.
  • Caroline Parker MBE: Actor, comedian, sign-singer.
  • Mary-Jayne Russell de Clifford: Actor, director, drama facilitator.
  • Paul ‘Steady’ Steadman: Choreographer, DJ and founder of Yugen Arts, here he’s Assistant Director.
  • Jack Trow: Actor, writer, Stan’s Cafe veteran.
  • Elexi Walker: Actor and voice-over artist.
  • Holly Williams: Actor, photographer, poet.
  • James Yarker: Director.


3 Saturdays in November (3 new shows)

October 28th, 2021

Here is the news. Across November we are opening three new shows, with three new casts, created in three consecutive weeks. Crazy? Maybe. Here’s why…

The most familiar way of making theatre is for a playwright to sit in a room scribbling before giving a script to a director and cast who then stage their words. However, there is a parallel, less heralded way of doing things in which a bunch of people get in a room together and just make it all up between them. This alternative approach is termed Devised Theatre.

There are a myriad approaches to ‘just making it all up’ but generally in devised theatre the actors and director (if there is one) take on more authorial roles, they create their own performance material and the whole group consider structure and pace, those responsibilities the playwright would normally take on.

Performing and directing in devised theatre requires some alternative skills to working on scripted pieces, so when devising companies are recruiting they are necessarily drawing on a narrower pool of talent. Gaining skills and experience in devising can be tricky, so we thought we’d do a little to help broaden that pool

Believing that the best way to learn how to devising is to devise and having some ideas for new shows we wanted to try out we determined to make a set of three new shows, fast and loose across November.

We have recruited three dynamic new teams of actors keen to develop their devising skills, supported by a stalwart Stan’s Cafe Associate Artist helping things gel. For each new production I am being supported by a Assistant Director keen to extend their devising skills in order to make their own devised work. We have even snuck in a couple of musician new to ‘this kind of thing’.


The shows should be raw, energised and a lot of fun. They are being made and performed in a three alternative venues around Birmingham. We will share details of each show over the next three days but these free tickets are on release now via Eventbrite and seats are very limited so please book yours now.

Precious Emily (early version)
Saturday 6 November 14:00 & 16:00
Oakdale Centre, Umberslade Road, B29 7SB
Tickets Free (book in advance)

All Our Money (early version)
Saturday 13 November 14:00 & 16:00
Great Western Arcade, B2 5HU
Tickets Free (book in advance)

C90 Qawwali: Emperor In Birmingham (early version)
Saturday 20 November 14:00 & 16:00
Purbanat Studio, 49-55 Golden Hillock Road, B10 0JU
Tickets Free (book in advance)

Thank You and Goodbye to Roisin

September 30th, 2021

After six years as Executive Producer and joint CEO, Roisin Caffrey will be leaving Stan’s Cafe today to take on new projects with contemporary artists and organisations, including as Strategic Producer for Selina Thompson Ltd.

Since joining the company in 2015, Roisin has led on the global expansion of Stan’s Cafe’s work, taking Of All The People In All The World to Austria, Australia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Spain and Switzerland, where The Cardinals also toured.

In the UK, she produced major new work The Capital, as well as Made Up, Time Critical and most recently the outdoor show Rivers. On-line she produced For Quality Purposes, which was shortlisted for an OnComm award, as well as thirty-five episodes of The Anatomy of Melancholy. Among a wide variety of smaller projects, she also produced the revival of It’s Your Film as part of her initiative to broker relationships with the corporate sector for the presentation and creation of artistic and creative learning projects.

Roisin secured significant investment for the company’s creative learning work from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and major strategic funds from Arts Council England, and has championed the company’s work across Birmingham’s diverse communities.

Rob Elkington, Chair of Stan’s Cafe’s board said: “Roisin is passionate about theatre, cares deeply about the needs of artists and is ambitious for amazing audience experiences, and she has brought all those qualities to Stan’s Cafe.

She has made a huge impact on the growth of the company as an organisation and has produced work we are all hugely proud of, from shows with children and young people in Birmingham to the mass engagement installation work at sites across the world.

“Roisin has shown her sector leadership in chairing the board of Culture Central and in her personal commitment to equality as a member of the More Than a Moment steering group, who are working for radical change for the Black creative workforce.

“I want to recognise Roisin’s achievements over the last six years and thank her for her leadership and deep commitment to the company. I wish her so much success in her next career stage and have no doubt she will continue to produce exciting and bold art for audiences across the world with imagination, enthusiasm and drive.”

James Yarker, Stan’s Cafe’s Artistic Director added: “Over the last six years, Stan’s Cafe has benefited greatly from Roisin’s skills, commitment and insight, for which I am extremely grateful. With Roisin in the company, we have shared some wonderful adventures which we will always remember with great fondness.

“I would like to thank Roisin for everything she has made possible and wish her great success and happiness with Selina, and all the adventures that are still to come.”

Roisin Caffrey said: “It has been a pleasure to work with James and the team on such an extensive and eclectic range of projects over the past 6 years, as well as with brilliant artists, partners and audiences. I am looking forward to seeing what Stan’s Cafe does next and wish the team all the best for the future.”

The Commentators at Moseley Folk

September 4th, 2021

It’s the time of year again that last year we weren’t able to have but the beautiful late summer gathering, that is Moseley Folk and Arts Festival is on for real this year. Understanding that not everyone can be there The Commentators have again been invited to broadcast live coverage from the weekend. If you can’t attend in person you can listen at home and still enjoy all the action – picnic unpacking, backstage folk style antics, camping chair politics, the occasional heron – it promises to be a wonderful weekend.

The Commentators will be broadcasting from 10.45 until around 6.00pm on Saturday and Sunday. You can listen online via the player here or by clinking the link to take you to their Mixlr page …

The Commentators from Stan’s Cafe is on Mixlr

Rivers – a new performance

August 18th, 2021

Join us for a relaxing hour in Cotteridge Park on Saturday 11th September, for our new project, Rivers.

rivers image

Artist Vicky Roden has created two beautiful textile river maps, detailing every bridge, dam, confluence and town along both the Thames and the Volga. We invite you to join us on their banks and let us take you on a guided tour of these two fascinating European rivers.

Come with us along the Thames for an entertaining journey brimming with nature, inspiring artwork, tales of sewerage and ceaseless human invention. Then head along the Volga for a gripping tour awash with political strife, great swings of fortune, tales of caviar and vaulting human ambition.

When:

Saturday 11th September – there will be two performances: 2pm and 4pm. Each performance lasts approximately an hour and is suitable for ages 7+

Where:

Cotteridge Park (next to the Shed)

Franklin Rd, Cotteridge, Birmingham B30 2HG. (The park is about a ten minute walk from Bournville Station)

The performances are FREE and there is no need to book. There is a toilet and children’s playground on site. Bring a chair or blanket if you want to sit and a picnic if you want to make an afternoon of it.

We hope you can join us!

Make a micro-production with us

August 10th, 2021

We are delighted to have been awarded a Project Grant by Arts Council England to fund a number of training and development opportunities for West Midlands artists in autumn 2021.

Over 30 years we have learned that the best training for making art is to make art. Therefore in autumn 2021 we are creating three “micro-productions”, which take performers and assistant directors through a full, genuine making process in a condensed form. The production team for each production will be different, and will consist of an experienced Stan’s Cafe Associate Artist working alongside our Artistic Director James Yarker, with performers and assistant directors who are keen to start or extend their devising practice as part of this training and development opportunity.

We are looking for:

6 x Theatre Performers who do not have professional devising experience but have a strong interest in extending their professional practice into this area.

6 x Theatre Performers who have 2 – 5 years of devising experience (at any point in their career) who believe it would be useful for their professional development to work with Stan’s Cafe in this context

3 x Assistant Directors who feel their devising practice would benefit from working on one of these projects as an Assistant Director alongside Stan’s Cafe’s Artistic Director.

Fee:

Performers: £515 + holiday pay
Assistant Directors: £1,030 + holiday pay (includes a preparation week)

Dates: Performances and rehearsals are in November 2021.

For more information and how to apply, please download the project outline here.

Deadline for applications: 10am on Tuesday 31st August

Staging Macbeth for school

August 9th, 2021
Graeme, James, Jack, Elexi & Carys rehearse – Mabeth

We don’t normally do Shakespeare, we’re not that kind of theatre company, but for our friends at Saltley Academy all kinds of exceptions are made. Since 2016 we have helped successive Year 8s stage The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant Of Venice and Othello. Macbeth was postponed from 2020 to this summer and with social distancing measures still in force it was decided that rather than the students performing the play we should. What fun we had!

Craig had already compressed the original text to a Year 8 friendly length so the next step was to divide this so a cast of four could perform it without tragedy degenerating into farce.

Anxious to maximise the students’ connection to the play, our production and us we worked on new ways for them to collaborate with us. On Day 2 and Day 3 of rehearsals we went into school and each of the nine English classes took it in turns to direct us in a different scene. Students made props and drew or painted elements of scenery. Two different students played MacDuff’s son and we gained a particularly excellent second murderer to save Jack from having to do the deed. For one of the three performances we also gained three extra Thanes in banquet scene. From Day 4 onwards we posted brief video diary entries summarising rehearsals for students to watch in their English lessons.

Normally we take the students to perform at Shakespeare’s New Place in Stratford-Upon-Avon after which they explore the town, but as New Place was off-limits this year all the fun had to be school based. On the two performance days a slush machine was installed in the school hall and students worked up their own four minute long versions of the play. During the interval of our 90 minute long production EVERYONE got an ice-cream.

It was fantastic to be back in a rehearsal room working together. When compressed to 90 minutes Macbeth rockets past at an exhilarating lick, characters absorb turns of fortune in a line or two and move on a line or two later. With so much cut out famous speeches and phrases come at an astonishing rate. We revelled in the story, language and allusions, but with just ten days rehearsal there was barely any time for chin stroking so there was a great sense of drive every day.

For five days, with Graeme self-isolating, we got onto more familiarly experimental territory. Graeme’s performance was streamed into the rehearsal room via a laptop, he voiced a body-double (often me) and watched the results from where I usual sit. Maybe this is a technique to be returned to at some point…

Graeme was released for the first day of performance, having missed the get in and tech set up. I went into self-isolation for the second day of performance, so Dave stepped in to operate Luke & Chrissie’s bespoke sound cues and Graeme’s penance for missing so much manual labour was to take my place putting everything back into storage with Craig.

Commentary live from Kinder Exeter

June 19th, 2021

Join The Commentators 10:00 – 16:00 today (Saturday 19 June) as they bring you exclusive, live and uninterrupted coverage of all the actions and relaxed inaction from the first Kinder Exeter festival.

Compassion Radio KinderExeter is on Mixlr


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