Welcome to Stan's Cafe

Some of my best friends are Storytellers

March 19th, 2021
just another old geyser letting off steam

Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are storytellers, but there is nothing in the world (apart from quite a lot of things) that I hate more than a smug celebrity at an awards ceremony on stage telling the assembled masses how special they are because they are all ‘storytellers’.

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Haunted Joy Gaze

March 12th, 2021
Image credits: Ed Dimsdale

Haunted joy gaze
Vital banana grip
Warm death floating
Yellow sea day


I have just repaired a link to the micro-site that helps everyone write performance texts like our Bleak Heart Driver (which appears on Pieces For The Radio Vol.1). It is fun to use; you type in four three word phrases and the site performs a beautiful little dance converting these into 16 stanzas of automatic writing, little pills of nonesense, humour, poigniancy or enigmatic menace. Give it a go, or read on to see how Vital Banana Gaze works out…

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The People Show Book

February 19th, 2021


Mark Long’s book No One Knows But Everyone Remembers is fantastic. Written for the company’s 50th Anniversary (about 5 years ago) it manages to convey the company’s history, approach and philosophy through a hugely compelling and entertaining string of moments, anecdotes and stories.

Starting in the sixties, this book also works as a Time Capsule for London, an emerging alternative arts scene and British society in general. It also serves as an origin story for a whole strand of theatre that eschews narrative and playwrights – Stan’s Cafe included. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Community?

February 11th, 2021

It’s more complicated than just rejecting the premise of the question, but I do flinch whenever a form asks us how our art serves our community.

Such questions imply that art should have a simple utilitarian function and that artists should be in a position to know what utilitarian value our audiences receive from it. The challenge doesn’t stop there, after all, what is our community? Read the rest of this entry »

Innocence

January 22nd, 2021

When did you last see a film in which you genuinely didn’t know what was going to happen next nor at the end? When did you last see a film that resisted an obvious short-hand description ‘it’s this crossed with that’? When have you ever seen a film with no male characters or where the vast majority of the cast are under 12? Welcome to Innocence.

Hoovering up interesting items in a highbrow Edinburgh charity shop I pulled this DVD from the shelf. The Artificial Eye brand reliably promised something beyond the mainstream, something ‘art house’. The cover images are beautiful and arresting (you could say the same thing of any randomly selected frame from the film). The description, of a mysterious girls’ boarding school behind a high wall in a dense forest, was compelling. I bought it and unusually then watched it.

I loved it, I love it, I love it more the more I reflect on it and I can’t stop reflecting on it.

An Independent on Sunday critic devised this great short-hand “Buñuel meets Angela Carter meets Enid Blyton” – this is no help before you watch it but in retrospect is perfect!

Below is a link to a wonderful video essay that distills Innocence for you, but think carefully before watching it. I enjoyed knowing very little before starting; events and revelations unfold at a beautifully judged pace and as there is no real story this pacing feels especially important. I’m desperate to share more but I won’t, I’ll preserve your Innocence.

Film On The Radio – Die Hard (7.30pm)

December 22nd, 2020

Yippee ki yay and a ho ho ho to you all!

The Commentators are donning the sheepskins, opening up a tin of Roses and pressing play on a festive favourite. The only trouble is they can’t hear any of the dialogue…

Join them at 7.30 pm as they bring you all the action from this heart warming tale of family, office parties and snow white vests.

Listen along as you watch the film or, as it’s Christmas, just sit back with a babycham and let them do the hard work of watching it for you.

The Commentators from Stan’s Cafe is on Mixlr

If you can’t listen live the commentary will be as available as a podcast from tomorrow. Search for Stan’s Internet Cafe with your favoured podcast provider or listen at our channel at anchor fm

Die Hard – On the Radio

December 22nd, 2020

Return here at 19:30GMT this evening to hear The Commontator’s final Film On The Radio commentary. They don’t know it yet but their Christams Special is Die Hard.

What counts as a Christmas Film? It’s fashionable to debate this question at the moment. Put simply, Die Hard is set at Christmas so it counts. In selecting this film we had to apply what we’ve learnt about The Commentators’ ability to commentate on films without the sound. Compicated or ambiguous plots seem to work well as The Commentators get lost easily. Horror feels better than Comedy because Horror not translating may be comic but Comedy not translating can be horrific. It’s tough for The Commentators to cope with films that are heavy or reliant on dialogue and real world settings seem to work better than fantasy settings. So we judged all nominated films against all these factors and came out with Bruce Willis in a vest.

We hope you enjoy this last – Film On The Radio.

The Commentators from Stan’s Cafe is on Mixlr

Film On The Radio: The Shining

October 23rd, 2020

On the occasion of Halloween, The Commentators bring you ‘exclusive’ radio commentary on Stanley Kubrik’s chilling horror classic, The Shining. As usual our sheepskin clad heros will struggle to decypher the film’s plot without access to its audio, while endeavouring to bring listeners all the crucial action.

Remarkably, on this occasion a DIY ‘Red Button’ function is available, for those who like to watch ‘the match’ on TV with the radio commentary. The BBC iPlayer has The Shining available on 31st October, so when The Commentators start at 19:30 it is possible to synchronise their stream with the iPlayer on mute and watch the film in an entirely new way.

We’ve enjoyed previous Film On The Radio episodes both as pure audio and when synched with the film, it’s fun either way. Also, you can join in the conversation about both the film and its commentary on Twitter #FilmOnTheRadio by following @stanscafe.

For Film On The Radio: The Shining we are delighted to be teaming up with MAC. The arts centre, which has helped Stan’s Cafe so much over the years, has been forced by Corona Virus to close until Spring 2021. This performance is small contribution from Stan’s Cafe to help MAC serve its audience whilst closed and working with a minimal – one might even dare say – on this night at least – a skeleton staff.

Opportunity: Composer PhD Studentship

October 21st, 2020

You can decide for yourselves if four years ’embedded’ in Stan’s Cafe is something you’d wish on your best friend or gravest enemy, either way, if that person is a composer craving a PhD you’d do well to introduce them to this very unusual opportunity…

The Royal Birmingham Conservertoire and Stan’s Cafe are looking for an inquisitive and talented composer with exciting ideas and a passion for collaboration, to spend four years exploring the question:

“How can a composer-in-residence add value to Stan’s Cafe?” Read the rest of this entry »

Wanted: Four Associate Artists

October 5th, 2020

Here’s one lot of good news that leads to another lot of good news.

First Good News: The Paul Hamlyn Foundation have just promised us money from their Teacher Development Fund to work with 10 primary schools across South and East Birmingham. Our plan is to help teachers develop their drama skills in order to teach English to their students more effectively.

Subsequent Good News: As a result of this triumph we need to recruit four Associate Artists to help us deliver this programme over the next two years. We’re looking for people with skills in acting, devising and/or directing. Each contract is worth £11,400 and details of how to apply can be found here.

We were really chuffed to have be awarded this grant. It feels like a vindication of our work in schools thus far, particularly over the last eight years, when we have worked in long term collaboration with a small number of Partner Schools. This tightly focused approach has involved asking senior leaders what areas of school life or the curriculum they need help with and creating bespoke projects with teachers to address these challenges. We have had plenty of success working in this way, it’s fun to do and always presents a novel challenge. Ultimately, we’ve never been more proud than when a school’s success is, in part, attributed to our input. Read the rest of this entry »


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