Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

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” »

Kanji Characters

May 21st, 2015


So you know that in Japanese there are three different alphabets? Well there are and as you can imagine for those less than fully immersed in the culture this can cause some confusion. Continue reading “Kanji Characters” »

University of Birmingham

May 14th, 2015

A Journey Round My Skull (TEASER) from Mathew Beckett on Vimeo.

Last night Craig and crashed a fiftieth Birthday Party! Except of course even that would be a bit rebellious for us. We had invitation and the party was for a Theatre Studies department at a university. Except of course at the University of Birmingham it is Drama and Theatre Arts (discuss).

Neither of us are Birmingham alumni so were were outsiders and flattered to be invited. We learned that this department as most of a similar age was spawned from the English Department pioneered by an English Lecturer who believed that to study plays it really does help to stage them. The evening contained a number of (but not nearly enough) photographs of ‘the olden days’ in the department – flares, mustaches, tank tops, long hair, acoustic guitars and earnest productions of plays that would change the world; I could have watched a slideshow of these all night. Continue reading “University of Birmingham” »

Corali Dance

May 14th, 2015

Corali Sadlers Wells – Trailer FINAL from corali dance company on Vimeo.

Sometimes things would be a lot easier if we lived in London: like keeping up with the work of Corali. This trailer shows a recent piece which looks beautiful and reminds me how shamefully long it has been since I last saw their work live. Please give it a view, it will brighten up your day.

Slot Together

May 9th, 2015


Proper Repertory Theatre, in which a mostly fixed group of actors take on a series of plays as a team in the same producing house for a season has pretty much died off in the UK. I believe the RSC still attempts to work in this way but it is an expensive way of approaching things and there are few that can attempt it. Clearly something similar continues with contemporary theatre companies which have a fairly stable set of actors. In these circumstances you look forward to seeing the same actors in fresh roles and settings, carrying with you memories of their previous performances. Unfortunately, because these companies tend to devise their own material and the actors tend to create that material you rarely see huge contrasts in these performances. One of the delicious side effect of repertory companies was to be able to watch someone who was The King last week relegated to be a Butler this week. Although the plays are different in repertory the ghosts of the actors previous roles still linger. Continue reading “Slot Together” »

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