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Archive for the ‘Previews’ Category

Open Space Coming Soon

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

How often do you hear about something that sounds stupid or ridiculous, you write it off as such and then, at some future date, perhaps not so far in the future, you find yourself proved utterly wrong. In my case the answer is ‘far too often’ and Open Space ‘conferences’ is a case in point.

If you are fully up on Open Space you can skip to the penultimate paragraph of this post in which I write “It feels too long since the last one which is why Stan’s Cafe have teamed up with mac Birmingham to invited anyone involved in theatre in the region who wishes to attend to join us at mac on 8th November to help answer or at least respond to the challenge How Do We Help Theatre To Thrive Here And Now?

Everyone else stick with me and please read on… Continue reading “Open Space Coming Soon” »

And now The Judge.

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Photo Credit: Alex Brenner

This year I have the honour of being one of the judges for BE Festival. Here are five reasons I’m a fan of the festival.

1: I love the ‘lucky dip’ nature of the shows you will see. Each evening four short shows are shared, a tasting menu of surprises; a full meal just of starters – which are always the most exciting element of a meal. If you don’t like the flavour of one piece it’s not long before the next one comes along and the chances are high that there will be something each evening that you will find inspiring.

2: I love the cosmopolitan nature of every evening, seeing what artists from other countries are thinking about and playing with. This is a rare privilege, not a lot of international work reaches us in Birmingham and it’s especially unusual to see more ‘grassroots’ work and not the more predictable ‘big names’.

3: I love the food but more importantly audiences and artists eating together at long tables halfway through each evening reminds me of happy moments touring to theatre festivals in continental Europe, where making art doesn’t feel like a job but feels like life.

4: I love the sense of community at the heart of BE Festival. It was started for the excitement of it all by a group of friends working hard and relying on huge amounts of goodwill. Artists come to share their work, they are hosted by local residents and fed by the festival, volunteers help out and with BE NEXT the next generation of young artists are gaining valuable experiences making theatre.

5: I take an avuncular pleasure in seeing the festival’s reputation grow, the number of submissions increase, the cultural connections multiply, its ambitions soar and outreach work spread. Attending year’s festival causes me to remember with pleasure the excitement and anxiety of first B.E. Festival @ A.E.Harris in 2010.

Returning as a judge this year means I’ll definitely be at every performance. If you see me around please come and say ‘hello’ I’d love to hear your opinions all the show’s you’ve seen.

Fun Times

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Best of BE FESTIVAL UK 2017 from BE Festival on Vimeo.

It’s good to see BE Festival are on the road. They are touring three pieces from the 2016 Festival including one of my favourite shows of that (or any) year Vacuum, which I raved about here. It is around the UK so chase it down.

Closer to our home, we’re looking forward to a rare Birmingham appearance from our Sheffield friends Third Angel. They are bringing their show 600 People to mac.

It’s time to get out and about.

The Countryside

Monday, March 27th, 2017

burntoutmotors

In 1995 we performed Voodoo City at Prema Arts Centre, it was only driving away afterwards that I started to consider what a ridiculous event it was. We were importing a lump of urban angst to a beautiful Gloucestershire village. Desecrating their idyll with a vision of towerblocks, concrete and ring-roads. Beside this we’ve always enjoyed our visits to Prema and Dartington and other rural venues but the uncomfortable memory of that Voodoo City clash has probably fed into our caution about performing in the countryside. Continue reading “The Countryside” »

Sklonište – Sarajevo Show

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Skloniste Tour 2016 [promo2] from Ailís Ní Ríain on Vimeo.

We have an exciting new show coming up @ AE Harris next Thursday, a multi-media performance marking the 20th Anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo. It an extraordinary and under told story. Here is brought back to us via poetry, photography, music and personal testimonies.

It is by Ailís Ní Ríain Tickets can be purchased here. We’re looking forward to it.

Mystery and Morality

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

PLS-web

Last year we toured one of our most popular shows The Cardinals to North America. As the show hit Toronto I was bowled over by a talk given by Dr. Matt Sergi. Matt is an expert in Mediaeval English Drama and he was talking about our show in the context of the religious mystery plays staged on the streets of York about five hundred years ago. So illuminating was the talk that we asked him to convert the talk into an essay, which he did.

When we got onto the usual awkward issue of payment and it descended into a familiar row, us trying to force money onto him and him refusing to take it. Once we’d patched things up it transpired that Matt’s theatre company PLS was planning to bring two of its shows to the UK, so we’ve invited them to come and perform @ A E Harris as our guests and we’re delighted that they’ve accepted.

So, we are proud to announce a mini-season of performances no less:

Mystery and Morality.

Stan’s Cafe, Birmingham, UK
The Cardinals c2011 7pm, 8th July. Admission £5 on the door (cash only) or tickets online via our shop.
Three Cardinals perform the history of the world, without words in their miniature puppet theatre mostly aided by their young female mulim stage manager.

SPECIAL GUESTS
PLS, Toronto, Canada
PLS specialise in giving audiences uproarious glimpse into the dynamic, scatological, often very funny world of English theatre as it was more than six hundred years ago. They translate original scripts into contemporary English and combine these with real medieval music, costume design and performance practices to show us hints of a culture that was, in some ways more liberated than our current one.

In a subversion of the original show’s anti-feminist themes both shows are performed by six non-male actors.

Both shows are family friendly, free of charge, relaxed performance.

Mankind c1464
Performed in the Courtyard @ A E Harris, 7:30pm 16th July
Mankind is very distractable and so Mercy and Mischief are striving for his attention, while a cheerful demon who creates human error is never far from the action. After this performance there will be a modest party to welcome PLS to Birmingham – everyone is welcome.

The Pride of Life c1300s
Performed in the Theatre @ A E Harris 7:30pm 17th July
The bombastic King Life believes he will live for ever despite the Queen’s urgent warnings that a rival King Death has recently landed in their realm.
Since only the first half of the original manuscript has been found the play’s inevitable mortal conclusion will be improvised each evening drawing on audience input.

Thanks to the generous support of Connaught Fund’s New Researcher Award and in line with Mediaeval practice no charge will be made for admission to either performance, but donations will be accepted.

Click here for directions to @ A E Harris 110, Northwood St. B3 1SZ

Please help us promote Mystery and Morality to others either by pointing them to this post or by printing off this A4 flier/poster and sticking it up somewhere.

Coming Up

Monday, June 6th, 2016

furious folly

Hold onto your hats everyone, there’s so much to see and do.

The Lunar Festival has come and gone darn it. Craig says it was great, so let’s not miss out on any of the other good stuff.

Alexander Zeldin, ‘new’ Associate Director at The REP has a devised show Beyond Caring opening in the venue’s Paint Shop opening on Wednesday, it arrives with great notices from elsewhere.

On Sunday BCMG’s Remembering The Future is the de facto farewell concert for Stephen and Jackie Newbould, it features four new works and has been in my diary for a good while now.

The weekend after Warwick Arts Centre host Doing Nothing Is Not An Option, a climate change and the arts conference which features presentations, discussions (and probably arguments) alongside three provocative shows.

This year’s BE Festival is nearly upon us (21 – 24 June).

LIFT is already upon London.

Mark Anderson, one of our all time favourite collaborators, is around the country with his spectacular show Furious Folly, which we are desperate to see. The brilliant news is that the show is coming to Sutton Park, it’s free but you have to book, so please do book, but only book on 9 not 8 July as on 8 July we have a one-off performance of The Cardinals @ A E Harris as they limber up to go to Basel in September (this may seem a little premature but a section of the show is being presented as part of On The Edge festival of children’s theatre that runs 2 – 9 July in Birmingham.

The Following weekend we have special guests @ A E Harris. PLS are with us all the way from Toronto, with two medieval morality plays. Mankind will be performed in our courtyard on 16 and The Pride of Life in our theatre space on 17. We will have a party after one of these performances but we’re not telling you which, so you’d better commit to coming to both (there is no charge, just donations). More on this later.

Birmingham Fest kicks off on 15 July and @ A E Harris we are pleased to be hosting Gus Watcham (19 July), Lucky Dog who are returning to the venue on 24 July after last year’s triumph; Reactor Factory on 29 July and Blancmontage are in on 31 July.

Devoted & Disgruntled 11

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

D&D image

Are you Devoted to making and watching theatre type activities but often a bit Disgruntled that things could work better in this field? Well, if so then the ideal place for you to be between 9th and 11th January next year is The REP in Birmingham where the 11th Edition of the Devoted and Disgruntled Open Space event takes place.
Continue reading “Devoted & Disgruntled 11” »

So much to see (and hear)

Friday, September 25th, 2015

requiem_to_let
Now the autumn rush is upon us, suddenly there is much potentially exiting stuff to see (and hear) in and around Birmingham. Birmingham Weekender is this weekend. The Stan’s Cafe contribution is a subtle input into one of the most subtle events in festival. Michael Wolters has written a Requiem to be performed in a disused retail unit and we have been called in to consider the presentation of this piece. Continue reading “So much to see (and hear)” »

BCMG Family Concert

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

bcmg-at-barber

Over the last two evenings we have been in the amazing deco setting of the Barber Institute Concert Hall listening to the amazing players of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group work through early rehearsals for the pieces that they will be playing as part of their family concert on Sunday. It’s been a treat, like private concerts with the added bonus of the conductor Christopher Austin tweak their performance to the shape he wishes. It’s soothing listening to the music and soothing to have a rehearsal going on that you have no responsibility for.

Our job, as ever, is to add a bit of theatrical flare to the concert proceedings without distracting too much from the music. We have a few ideas up our sleeves including the idea of teaming up with Paul Gaffney, a fantastic photographer whose specialism is sets of photographs taken on extended walks. He has produced a great set of new images especially for this concert and is also kindly allowing us to use his acclaimed series We Make The Path By Walking and another as yet unreleased series shot by moonlight. Next Monday, after two schools concerts, Paul will be giving a talk about his work at Library of Birmingham (18:00 -19:30) who, along with GRAIN have co-commissioned this new set of images.

We have a break tomorrow, then on Wednesday we focus in on our plans quite intently. Thursday is set aside for a bit of technical prep and work from us. On Friday it’s music and theatre. Saturday evening is a dress rehearsal and Sunday we fix everything that will be wrong with the dress rehearsal and perform at 11:30 and 14:00 before having a little lie down.


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