Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

Birmingham Fest 2015

July 21st, 2015

Birmingham Fest is now in its third year, and as ever we’re pleased to be involved and hosting some excellent theatre here @AE Harris.

This Sunday, we have a double bill from Lucky Dog Theatre Productions. First up ‘Hats off to Laurel and Hardy’ tells the story of the lives and loves of the iconic comedy duo, told from the afterlife. From their very different beginnings to their meteoric rise to fame, the play tells their story in a funny, touching, yet bittersweet way. It details their commitment to their work, the appreciation of their fans, the love of their wives and – most enduringly – their unerring devotion to each other. In true Laurel and Hardy style there is plenty of slapstick and even some questionable dancing. Heartwarming and hilarious, this one’s not to be missed.

Following on from Laurel and Hardy, Lucky Dog brings us ‘Mr Merrick, The Elephant Man’. Joseph Merrick (The Elephant Man) is possibly the most famous ‘freak’ in history. Many stage plays and the popular film have told a romantic and often fictional account of his story. ‘Mr Merrick, The Elephant Man’ promises to be the first play to actually only deal with the known facts about Merrick’s final years in The London Hospital, Whitechapel and his complicated relationship with his doctor, Frederick Treves. Painstakingly researched and written with the support of Merrick’s biographer, expect to be enlightened and moved by the stirring true story of ‘the most remarkable creature ever to draw breath’.

These have been sell-out shows at other venues, so book tickets now to avoid disappointment!

Confirmation Bias

July 16th, 2015

So, gorging on TED talks can eventually result mild in nausea. In high doses their relentlessly positive, earnest, can-do tone reacts rather unpleasantly with deep-seated British cynicism. Fortunately the cure is simple. After a brief period of abstinence levels of immunity usually return to normal. This is good news because the series regularly delivers useful or diverting thoughts. Continue reading “Confirmation Bias” »

Creative Learning 2014/5

July 15th, 2015


We are nearly at the end of another academic year, the perfect juncture to deliver a brief report on Stan’s Cafe’s Creative Learning activities, activities that rarely reach the public realm. Continue reading “Creative Learning 2014/5” »

Manchester Adventure

July 14th, 2015


Here we have three artists processing the results of A City Adventure as conducted by Arts Council England’s Children and Young People officers. Nina working away at sound recordings, Jake working away at photographs and Ben working away at poetry.

It all worked out in the end. The most relieved person around Stan’s Cafe right now? Craig whose headache it was to coordinate this complicated orienteering challenge in someone else’s city: Mission Accomplished.

Clive Dutton

July 1st, 2015


It was very sad yesterday to learn of the death of Clive Dutton. He was an amazing man.

I’m not going to rehearse his biography here as a professional journalist has written a proper obituary, but certainly our experience of Clive tallies with everything said about him in that obituary.

Clive had vision, energy and charisma. He was the Executive Director of Regeneration at Birmingham City Council when we met him. It was at a time when we didn’t feel we were getting much traction in the city and someone had recommended with visit Mr. Dutton. Continue reading “Clive Dutton” »

Camera Obscura

June 10th, 2015

Photo: Pete Ashton.

Here’s an exciting opportunity. The boffins behind Birmingham’s excellent Camera Obscura have a call out for artists who want to make a work of art using their devious device. Having enjoyed our own fun and games with crazy optics making It’s Your Film we can heartily recommend having a think about it, the obscura delivers a very seductive look and the viewing experience is strong. What is more remarkable is that Pete and Jenny have managed to pull together some money to support the best ideas. Well done them. Good luck you. Click on the link to fined out how to apply.

UK vs Serbia

June 8th, 2015


Last week national Serbian TV news asked me about the future of Serbian Theatre and it’s qualities in comparison to theatre in the UK. I am clearly in a weak position to opine about UK theatre as I see so little of it, but to be asked about Serbian theatre was frankly absurd. However, with a microphone in my face and the camera rolling “I don’t know” didn’t seem a reasonable answer. Fortunately, in the panic stricken moment during which I was processing the question I realised that although I didn’t “know” I did have an opinion. Continue reading “UK vs Serbia” »

More Lunar Commentators

June 7th, 2015

The commentary ‘highlights’ from Saturday at the Lunar Festival are now available on soundcloud. All part of The Commentator‘s Listen Again service.

The Lunar Commentators

June 5th, 2015


June 2nd, 2015


It is almost a year since we premiered Finger Trigger Bullet Gun at LIFT. The show is about the start of the First World War. Britain gets a prologue and a few fleeting mentions but the show is centred on Berlin, Vienna and Belgrade and history from their perspective. Working on the show taught us an enormous amount of history and some geography. It opened our eyes to how narrow our view of this area of history is. This lack of knowledge combined with the setting a hundred years ago and many hundreds of miles away made the piece feel quite distanced from us, until the final scene brings all these historical incidents crashing, terrifyingly into the present. Continue reading “Bridges” »

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