Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

Archive for the ‘Previews’ Category

Cultural Exchange #2

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

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One of the alluring elements of the BE Festival is the links that it brokers between the visiting artists and their host city. The festival introduces seventy young theatre makers to Birmingham and it introduces a local audience to theatre from eleven countries across Europe. The audience and artists supper together, but perhaps the most powerful engagement comes through the hosting of artists by local volunteers.

BE is able to operate on a shoestring by making it easy for people to give each other gifts. The artists are not paid and have to finance their own travel but get free food and board, volunteers host the artists and in exchange meet fascinating new people and receive tickets to see all the shows on the day their guests perform. It is a positive change and your chance to help make a great thing happen. If you are interested in hosting an artist or two email Helena Scott-Hardy at Helena@befestival.org.

BE Ready

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Today BE Festival launched it’s 2014 programme in a small event at The REP which even my ineptitude failed to totally wreck. The big news is that the festival which was born @ A E Harris has moved to The REP and a clever twist they are solving the riddle of being at The REP and retaining the factory feel by eschewing the venue’s plush foyer, bar and restaurant and reversing the venue. Audiences will enter through the back door. They will socialize in the venue’s workshop, eat on the main stage, visit an exhibition in the paint shop and see shows in The DOOR and The STUDIO, but here they will still enter from back stage. Continue reading “BE Ready” »

Scores and Scores

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Satellite

I have had an interest in scores since 1997 when we made Simple Maths and found that a show that is all moves and no words is very difficult to notate into a conventionally written script. My solution was a spread sheet with numbered moves on the Y-axis and performers on the X-axis, the cell contains information as to what they are doing a column to the right was used for further notes. It turns out spread sheets are useful, variants have been used for District 12, The Cleansing of Constance Brown and The Cardinals. My memory is that the score for Make Like You Believe was more like a map.

The master spreadsheet for Twilightofthefreakingods, 258 rows marked of in minutes, columns A-P for players, instructions in each cell and colour coding red, blue and green could easily sneak into the exhibition that currently occupies the entrance gallery in the Library of Birmingham.

Score: Trace that Sound brings together an extraordinary collection of musical scores many of which resemble works of visual art more than musical notation. Those by Cornelius Cardew are pretty much the most conventional there (scroll down). The exhibition finishes on 5th April but the Frontiers Festival continues.

Cannon Hill Collective

Friday, March 28th, 2014

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For a while now, and particularly this week, we – mostly Craig – have been lending some assistance to a group of young artists the Cannon Hill Collective at mac birmingham. They have been working on a mini festival. This weekend is the weekend when they do their thing. So we encourage everyone to drop in and see what they are up to. Their stimulus has been ‘art for social change’ so expect plenty of provocation and food for thought and maybe even ACTION.

Walk On

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

River Rea. Highgate 2013. HD Video Loop 7m 45s from David Rowan on Vimeo.

Yesterday I was over at mac birmingham offering a few shards of my ancient wisdom to the youth of the Cannon Hill Collective who are preparing a great four days of socially engaged arts activity at the venue 27th -30th March. It was another chance to dip into the great Walk On exhibition. Which, as the title suggests, collects art that springs from artists walking. Being a fan of maps, lists and walking I’m a sucker for all this stuff. I’m also a sucker for David Rowan’s set of beautiful video landscapes The Dark River, which also act as an outrider for this year’s Flatpack Festival

To be blunt, before its rebuild I can’t ever recall being particularly excited by mac’s exhibitions, they were constricted by their small exhibition spaces scattered through the building. Now, with a big gallery space in the centre of the building and more coherent public exhibition space down stairs it’s as if they’ve been let off the leash, I now actively look out to see what they’ve got coming in with the expectation it will be great.

So tomorrow you could treat yourself to a lovely evening at mac birmingham. Limber up with Walk On, dip into Untied Artist’s For Their Own Good and round things off with a delicious Purity Ale (other beers/exhibitions/art works are available, please drink/watch/contemplate responsibly – this blog post has not been paid for – I just like the work).

David Lang Debt

Monday, February 24th, 2014

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Today David Lang arrived in London for the UK Premiere of his Cello Concerto (World to Come) tonight at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, tomorrow he flies home to New York, this afternoon was a prime opportunity to meet him and quiz him about his new piece for 1000 voices Crowd Out, which has been commissioned by BCMG and receives its world Premiere at Millennium Point on 8th June. Continue reading “David Lang Debt” »

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.

Threads

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

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We’ve been talking about the concept of what our first contribution to the Warwick Commission will be. We’ve been gathering some materials together. Today was our first day trying some of the ideas out in practice.

It’s all quite intimidating, but we did have one of those gratifying moments in which you agree that something you really like cannot be allowed into the piece because it breaks the rules (in an unhelpful way). You always feel a warm glow of virtue at that point.

Cultural Value

Thursday, December 19th, 2013


Photo: Graeme Braidwood

Late last month, while I was keeping a longstanding appointment to play Scalextric with teachers at Washwood Heath Academy and Craig was anatomizing melancholy at Ovalhouse, Charlotte went brain to brain with the brains at the launch of The Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value (see photo). Why so? Terrifyingly Stan’s Cafe are the official Artists In Residence for the commission.

Our first duty in this position is to make something to for ‘a major London venue’ on the occasion of Robert Peston‘s provocation talk (4th February 18:00 – 20:30). Last week I zipped down to the venue in order to have a good idea. Fortunately, with five minutes to go before the good idea had to be explained to The Commission’s Chair the good idea arrived. Double fortunately the idea was indeed deemed to be good. Sometimes a bit of pressure helps clarity of thinking.

This first provocation event hasn’t

Goose Party

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Just before Christmas Talking Birds are dusting off their musical comedy classic Trevor Goose and his dark night of lights. Which uses The Little Match Seller story as an excuse for theatrical fun and games. In this incarnation ‘our very own’ Craig Stephens will be staring, possibly in the goose role (I’m not privy to such industry secrets). The show is on 19th – 21st December in Coventry and after the show on 21st the now almost mildly well know Theatre-ish party kicks off at the same venue. All thoroughly recommended.


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