Welcome to Stan's Cafe

Heavy Activist Rice

August 18th, 2019

When staging Of All The People In All The World on foreign shores we always have at least a ton of rice on our rider. It’s not very rock-and-roll but when you’re building an installation that converts human population statistics into grains of rice it is necessary.

In truth we are starting to sound ever more like theatre’s answer to Celine Dion as we get ever more particular about the exact kind of rice we require. We use a grains-per-gram equation to help us ‘count’ large numbers and so, a few years ago, had to throw an hysterical strop when a venue supplied us with broken rice. Rice with a high proportion of broken grains is significantly cheaper than standard rice but we rely on a high proportion of whole grains to be confident in our counting strategy. Continue reading “Heavy Activist Rice” »

Recruiting a General Manager !

August 6th, 2019

We’re recruiting!

We’re looking for a General Manager to join our team at Stan’s Cafe. The General Manager is at the heart of the company, leading on finances and operations and managing projects on the ground. We’re looking for someone friendly, resourceful and keen to get stuck in.

You may not currently work in the theatre sector but will be passionate about supporting artists to create new work, and in developing and maintaining the business and organisational structures in order for that to happen.

Salary band: £28,000 – £32,000 per year.

Download the job description here, to find out more.
Applications close at midday on Tuesday 3 September.
First round interviews will be held on Monday 9 September.

To apply, please submit a CV, a cover letter (no longer than 2 sides) explaining why you are suitable for the role and the downloadable equal opportunities and data protection forms to admin@stanscafe.co.uk

If you would like to have an informal, confidential chat about the role please contact Roisin Caffrey, Executive Producer: roisin@stanscafe.co.uk

Thank You Alan James

July 16th, 2019

Last Friday we held our annual Summer Party in the courtyard of our HQ here in Birmingham. It was a pleasent, low key evening and later a mellow night, but my heart really wasn’t in it.

It’s now a little over three months since our friend Alan James died and two months since his funeral. The funeral was a terribly sad but wonderful occassion. A humanist celebrant offered consolation, Spiro and 9bach – the two bands Alan managed – both performed, the room was full of Alan’s friends, four people spoke and at the centre of things lay Alan in a wicker coffin topped with his hat.

Afterwards we gathered at The Swan, Stourport-on-Severn; different threads of Alan’s life meeting, sharing stories and food and music. It felt apt that even in his absence Alan was introducing people to each other, we had a lovely time.

Travelling home a reflected on how Stan’s Cafe could say our own proper thank you so someone who had given so much time and attention to the company. Our Summer Party seemed an apt occasion and as Alan had introduced us to so much great music over the years we could easily playlist the whole event with ‘his’ music. So we did and it was a great soundtrack but somehow still not enough. I’d thought that maybe, if the moment and audience were right, I’d share with the party the tribute to Alan I’d read at the funeral, but the moment wasn’t right until 1am in a corner with just two people listening. So I’m going to share this with you now.

Alan had an obituary in The Guardian and an article in Froots magazine both of which cover his amazing journey through the world of music. Part of my job was to add a Birmingham and Theatre dimension to the picture, so this is an attempt to say thank you on behalf of another whole great gang of us. It is also piece of writing I crafted for and about a dear friend as a means of saying thank you for everything. Please read it.

Othello 110 – 30

June 30th, 2019

We’re all familiar with unfamiliar Performer : Audience ratios now, but next week’s 110 : 30 must still raise eyebrows; an oligarch booking the Kirov Ballet for a modest birthday bash? No, half of Year 8 at Saltley Academy performing Othello to a class from Year 7.

You may recognise Saltley from its recent appearance on The Great British School Swap, this is the fourth edition of our insanely optimistic Shakespeare collaboration with Saltley Academy in which ever member Year 8 has to perform both at school and in Stratford-upon-Avon. In 2016 Lucy Nicholls made version of The Tempest which neatly put narrators on microphones mixing genuine Shakespeare with modern language whilst visual storytelling took place on the stage. The following year we were challenged to up the Shakespeare quotient, so A Midsummer Night’s Dream contained a tiny fraction of Shakespeare’s words but what words there were were all his. We added eyes to household objects to make a puppet show to avoid students having to act as if they were in love. Last year we were challenged to do it all without puppets, so we took on The Merchant of Venice with costumes instead of puppets and with contracted scripts all perfect bound to avoid the confetti, ticker-tape phenomena of previous years. Continue reading “Othello 110 – 30” »

Recruiting a Creative Learning Producer

May 24th, 2019

We’re on the hunt for a Creative Learning Producer to join our team at Stan’s Cafe. This is a new role for someone to take up the exciting challenge of developing and growing our Creative Learning work, with a view to increasing the number of schools and young people we collaborate with each year.

We’re looking for someone dynamic, enterprising and friendly who loves working in schools and is committed to promoting creativity as an integral part of our education system.

Download the job description here, to find out more. Applications close on Monday 10th June at 10am and interviews will be held on Monday 17th June for shortlisted candidates.

Please submit a CV, a cover letter (no longer than 2 sides) explaining why you are suitable for the role, and the equal opportunities and data protection forms to admin@stanscafe.co.uk

Dream Big Adelaide

May 21st, 2019

Theatre luvvies will tell you that theatre is special because it is made afresh every night for a new audience and that the unique combination of those people in that space together at that time… it’s about context… etcetera and so on and on. I’ve spun similar lines and they’re not wrong, but at the same time theirs is also the same script, performed by the same cast, on the same set, on a similar stage us here – you there – darkness and clap at the end.

Of All The People In All The World is only theatre if you want it to call it that but if it is theatre it is re-made more radically than most theatre each time we perform it. In this case it really is all about context.

This Performance Installation, if you want to call it that, comprises piles of rice representing human population statistics counted out one grain per person and placed on labelled sheets of paper. The combination of which statistics sit next to which generate stories and questions. When we arrive in a new venue we have the freedom to put whatever statistic we choose where ever we choose to put it (provided we have enough rice to represent the number involved). In this way the ‘script’ is waiting to be written afresh with each new performance in each new venue. Continue reading “Dream Big Adelaide” »

BYPY – live coverage of prestige award!

May 16th, 2019

commentators is on Mixlr

Overlooked for Champions League semis, the Championship Playoffs and the early season cricket, The Commentators have instead scooped a similarly prestitious gig, bringing you exclusive radio commenatry, live from tonight’s Birmingham Young Professional of the Year awards ceremony. They will open up with scenes from the ‘red carpet’ at 6pm and bring you all the action right through to (and including) the announcment of this year’s winner of this coverted award at half past ten. Click on the link above to receive your exclusive radio commentary direct to your device.

It’s Your Film – the reboot

March 26th, 2019

Back in 1998 Stan’s Cafe was in big trouble. We’d made a show, Simple Maths, so wondrously minimal that the unobservant believed it was a drama in which nothing happens. The fall out of this was that plans for our next show, A Translation Of Shadows, had to be put back sixteen years and we had no money. The only theatre work on our horizon was a £400 commission from The Bond, an artist run gallery in Birmingham, to make a one-off performance for their regular Friday night performance art slot. Continue reading “It’s Your Film – the reboot” »

Touring Theatre

January 29th, 2019

So we have two vans booked. We have borrowed an extra workshop space from our landlord and marked out the Jacksons Lane stage on its floor. We have rethought how our set is constructed so that actual human beings can build it without mechanical assistance. We have replaced a no longer available Stage Manager with an available Stage Manager. Elements of the soundtrack have been tweaked and we have hired some fancy baton lights that were used in the original performances but which it is unreasonable to expect venues to have in their stock. We have collated venue details, printed new fliers and posters. We have rewritten promotional text to bespoke lengths, updated program notes and conducted interviews on the radio. We have conversed with technical and marketing departments checking that the show will work on each stage and that people will turn up to see it. Accommodation has been booked and per diems withdrawn from the bank. We are nearly ready to take The Capital on tour – why are we bothering?

I love the principle of touring. You’ve made a show you are proud of and so you want to show it to as many people as possible, everyone should have a chance to see the show if they wish. I love how difficult it is, the amount of bloodyminded obstinacy it requires to fill a Luton Van full of set and a Transit Van full of props, drive them across the country and spend eight hours preparing in order to perform a ninety minute show before taking everything down again and packing it back into the vans. To me it is special that this is done just for the people who choose to be there that night and no one else, how can this act of commitment be denied and if the show is good, so much the better.

Touring theatre is how we find out what people in other places are thinking and doing. If theatre doesn’t tour then inspiration and influence don’t spread. I want people to be inspired and influenced by Stan’s Cafe whether it’s aesthetically, motivationally or simply fuelling up artists who cry ‘we can do better than that!’

Touring is also a means through which we learn about our shows. After four performances we know The Capital a little, but having gone away and come back and remembered and performed it again we will know more and each new performance and venue will bring new knowledge. Different audiences and different physical spaces will stretch the show in different ways. Repetition will give the actors more chances to explore how they perform and what is possible.

Taking theatre from place to place is to gather people round a shared experience that is made by all of us: the visiting company, the resident technicians and theatre staff plus that night’s audience. I love this gathering, if it’s huge then the moment feels celebratory and if it’s tiny then it feels impossibly intense.

Who knows what lies ahead in the next couple of weeks – the uncertainty is all part of it as well.

Almost Secret Art

December 17th, 2018

Last Wednesday Laura, Roisin and I jumped on a train from Jewellery Quarter station and took the 14 minute ride to Acocks Green where we found our way to the mostly hidden Archbishop Ilsley Catholic School where Craig had come to the conclusion of a modest new edition of the Echo Eternal series commemorating the Holocaust in schools across Birmingham this year. Back in the spring he worked with students from Jewellery Quarter Academy creating Zigi Doesn’t Hate (see video above), inspired by the testimony of Zigi Shipper. On this occasion it was Hedi Frankl who provided the inspiration. Continue reading “Almost Secret Art” »


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