Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

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Cultural Exchange

Friday, May 9th, 2014

‘Safety In Numbers’ (2014) from sam chester on Vimeo.

This week we have had visitors. Two artists were over from Sydney on Churchill Fellowships. As well as seeing some of the cultural delights of this grand city and being introduced to a good range of arty folk they sat in with us on a bit of devising.

Craig and I were doing a bit of work plotting the next Provocation for the Warwick Commission and glad of some extra input. The fact that both Sam Chester and Sarah Vyne Vassallo are choreographers was useful as we’re trying to cook up a short gestural performance. Though their suggestions will carry an influence on our final piece, perhaps of more enduring value will be their contribution of a new term to our devising vocabulary. Where previously every speculative suggestion in the devising room had to be couched in ridiculous circumlocutory phrases such as “It probably isn’t this but I’m going to say it anyway…” or “It isn’t this but maybe it’s something like…” now the Aussies have donated the far more direct and evocative “This is probably a bomb…” we love it!

Hurray for the cultural exchange.

Big Vinyl

Friday, April 25th, 2014

belief&doubt

Our agent in Canada has sent through this image of Barbara Kruger’s installation Belief & Doubt at the Hirshhorn museum in Washington DC. Whilst most there were admiring the visual impact and processing the work’s conceptual dimensions our man was in industrial espionage mode: “how on earth have they applied these vast rolls of vinyl so flawlessly?” (see third photograph down).

We thought our vinyl application was good but now the bar has been raised significantly.

Small Crowd Out

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

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On 8th June a choir of 1000 people will gather at Millennium Point to perform the world premiere of David Lang’s Crowd Out. BCMG who have commissioned the piece have asked if we will keep an eye on the visual aspect of the piece, which is exciting new territory for us. Tonight there is a gathering of most of the twenty conductors who are to lead each of the 50 voice choirs which come together to form the mega choir. It’s time to learn the piece.

If you are keen to join in there are still some places vacant in the choir so visit the BCMG website to sign up.

Lighting Up

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

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Tomorrow night’s performance of The Anatomy of Melancholy is curiously positioned, it’s not an opening night with all its attendant but we have only performed the show four times before and that was seven months ago, since when we’ve hacked the thing about, plus it’s our first gig at The REP in a decade so there still feels enough to be anxious about. Continue reading “Lighting Up” »

Zero Hour

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

It is not often that anything hits the news that I have first hand experience off, so it has been interesting listening to recent talk about “Zero Hours Contracts”. A report, recently published, suggests that there are far more employees on these contracts than official figures state. The majority of news coverage I have come across puts forward the argument against these contracts as being too heavily weighted in favour of the employer; they allow the employer to be able to call an employee as and when they wish them to work rather than committing to a specified number of hours per-week in advance. Continue reading “Zero Hour” »

More Intimacy Required

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013


Photo of Little Earthquake’s The Year Is twenty-One courtesy of Pilot.

Tonight the Stan’s Cafe board of directors met (for the 65th time) and agreed a plan that has been brewing for a while but has been difficult to push to completion. We’re excited to announce that, as of mid-October, our venue @ A E Harris is going to focus on more intimate work. On that date we are releasing the bulk of the venue so that our landlords, the excellent A.E.Harris & Co. (Birmingham) Ltd. can expand their manufacturing output and we can concentrate more of our energies on our core business of welding together tip top theatre. Continue reading “More Intimacy Required” »

And There’s More

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

BE Festival 2013 is up and running and feels even better than the previous three editions. It is packed full of great performances until late Saturday night, but after that do not grieve, all is not lost.

On Tuesday 9th Talking Birds arrive at Town Hall Birmingham with their Intergalactic Opera Troy Story, which is a collaboration with Orchestra of The Swan. It starts at 16:30, why so early? Because it is also a collaboration with a number of schools. My plan is to pick youth up from school and take them directly there for a bit of futuristic Greek Mythology.

Further Greek inspiration can be found in the latest piece by long time Stan friend Leo Kay. Only Wolves and Lions is a meal for 16 – 20 people which includes performance, storytelling and philosophizing. Each audience member brings an ingredient and something is cooked up from the results – at best it should be mouthwatering and worst ‘unusual’. Greek connection? “Only wolves and lions eat alone, you should not eat, not even a snack, on your own.” Epicurus.

BE Ready

Friday, June 28th, 2013

No effort is being spared in preparations for this year’s BE Festival here @ A E Harris. Volunteers are swarming all over the place cleaning and decorating, technicians are also swarming building a seating bank, rigging lights and running cables. We’re doing our bit, Craig’s just shimmied up a ladder being dived bombed by seagulls to clear guano out of guttering and block holes. “Given all these efforts what can I contribut?” we hear you ask. The answer: just turn come along. In fact come along on TUESDAY for the opening, drink FREE SPANISH WINE and watch three award winning shows!

Cardinals in the Kirk

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

We are delighted to announce four performances of The Cardinals in Edinburgh during August as part of the Fringe Festival. The show will be performed in the beautiful setting of Greyfriars Kirk on 19th, 20th, 21st & 23rd August at 12:00. Tickets are available via the Fringe Box Office. We would love to see the shows really busy so please do pass the word around.

Community Lovers Guide

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

We are rather flattered to recently have appeared in a new publication – A Community Lovers Guide To Birmingham. There’s no great mystery to how this came about, it’s edited by Stan friend and Podnosh boss Nick Booth. It’s a small, attractive book built around a series of short essays telling stories of socially engaged projects that have taken place in Birmingham over the last few years. Amongst these are those we thought we were familiar with (unlit we learned more from the book) are Created in Birmingham, the 4am Project, Social Media Surgeries and the delicious Change Kitchen; others we knew nothing of (but now do) are Saheli Women’s Group, Loaf, Urban Harvest, Friends of Cotteridge Park and Big City Talk Plan.

It takes an hour or so to read, so long as you spend some time gazing at the lovely photos and of course being all about generosity and openness and making things happen you are welcome to read it on-line: and we recommend you do.


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