Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

Kanji Characters

May 21st, 2015


So you know that in Japanese there are three different alphabets? Well there are and as you can imagine for those less than fully immersed in the culture this can cause some confusion. Continue reading “Kanji Characters” »

University of Birmingham

May 14th, 2015

A Journey Round My Skull (TEASER) from Mathew Beckett on Vimeo.

Last night Craig and crashed a fiftieth Birthday Party! Except of course even that would be a bit rebellious for us. We had invitation and the party was for a Theatre Studies department at a university. Except of course at the University of Birmingham it is Drama and Theatre Arts (discuss).

Neither of us are Birmingham alumni so were were outsiders and flattered to be invited. We learned that this department as most of a similar age was spawned from the English Department pioneered by an English Lecturer who believed that to study plays it really does help to stage them. The evening contained a number of (but not nearly enough) photographs of ‘the olden days’ in the department – flares, mustaches, tank tops, long hair, acoustic guitars and earnest productions of plays that would change the world; I could have watched a slideshow of these all night. Continue reading “University of Birmingham” »

Corali Dance

May 14th, 2015

Corali Sadlers Wells – Trailer FINAL from corali dance company on Vimeo.

Sometimes things would be a lot easier if we lived in London: like keeping up with the work of Corali. This trailer shows a recent piece which looks beautiful and reminds me how shamefully long it has been since I last saw their work live. Please give it a view, it will brighten up your day.

Slot Together

May 9th, 2015


Proper Repertory Theatre, in which a mostly fixed group of actors take on a series of plays as a team in the same producing house for a season has pretty much died off in the UK. I believe the RSC still attempts to work in this way but it is an expensive way of approaching things and there are few that can attempt it. Clearly something similar continues with contemporary theatre companies which have a fairly stable set of actors. In these circumstances you look forward to seeing the same actors in fresh roles and settings, carrying with you memories of their previous performances. Unfortunately, because these companies tend to devise their own material and the actors tend to create that material you rarely see huge contrasts in these performances. One of the delicious side effect of repertory companies was to be able to watch someone who was The King last week relegated to be a Butler this week. Although the plays are different in repertory the ghosts of the actors previous roles still linger. Continue reading “Slot Together” »

Opening Nights

April 27th, 2015

We’d been waiting for 22nd April 2015 for what felt like years.

When the morning of the world premiere day finally arrives it comes as a relief, the show is what it is, the time for improvements is suspended, we just have to try and land whatever artistic summersault it is we have agreed to attempt. And of course when I say ‘we’ I mean the actors, the lighting and sound operators, everyone but me – which is why it is a relief, my role is over for a bit. I’m standing at the edge of the crash mat with a concerned look on my face. Continue reading “Opening Nights” »

Cultural Value

April 16th, 2015


So far the election campaign has the feel of a bidding war, with parties attempting to out do each other in their promises to reduce the deficit, give the NHS more and not raise taxes in any way ‘hard working families’ will notice. This equation appears to summon up the perfect storm for any public expenditure that is not ‘ring fenced’. Concerned that in this political climate the value of culture is all to easily dismissed, the Warwick Commission undertook an investigation into ‘The Future of Cultural Value’. The commission’s findings and pithy recommendations from twelve months of study were published in February hoping to influence the debates currently underway.

The list of commissioners is a stellar run-down of UK cultural VIPs, plus sneaking in at the end, adding a bit of je ne sais quoi, James Yarker. Don’t let this put you off reading the document, it really is good and I really didn’t contribute enough to spoil it in any way.

Download a PDF of the commission’s report here.

St. George’s Steps

April 14th, 2015

Photo Credit: Ming De Nasty.

Yesterday Saltley Academy started working with us on the latest edition of The Steps Series. St. George’s Steps is due for completion on 23rd April (naturally). It will look to dramatise seven moments in English history using vinyl footprints, handprints and speech bubbles to enable audiences to re-enact these scenes for themselves. The piece’s key theme is ‘British Values’. Continue reading “St. George’s Steps” »

Roisin Caffrey: Exec Producer

April 13th, 2015

Welcome Roisin

Those who follow us on Twitter will already have had a hint at our latest big breaking news. We are genuinely excited to officially welcome Roisin Caffrey to the Stan’s Cafe team.

Roisin grew up in Birmingham before going to the University of Leeds. She returned home to work at Birmingham Conservatoire and then at mac in the productions team. As well as producing independent work, she has been Administrator at Theatre-Rites, Production Assistant at the Gate Theatre Notting Hill and General Manager at Cheek by Jowl. She was Executive Producer at NIE on maternity cover before travelling to Australia to work on Darwin Festival, and has just finished working in the team producing Royal de Luxe’s visit to our friends at Perth Festival with The Giants. She will officially join Stan’s Cafe on 20th April as our first ever Executive Producer.

A quirk of timetables means Roisin was able to meet up with The Cardinals team in Adelaide – hence the photograph.


April 3rd, 2015

Ava's Wedding Scene 3 pic

So, finally the great tour of The Cardinals is over. The team have dispersed in various directions, the set is in a shipping container wending its way home and a friend on Facebook asks “is that the last ever performance?” The answer is “who knows – we hope not” because now days we regularly get the chance to see shows we had once imagined where gone, never to be seen again. Continue reading “Repertoire” »

Reciprocal Marketing

March 26th, 2015


It’s tough trying to flog a show when your budget is small and your potential audience is being shouted at constantly from all angles by other people wanting to sell them things. Reciprocal marketing is a classic free roll of the dice. The logic runs smooth: “your audience likes your theatre, maybe they’d like to hear about our theatre and similarly maybe our audience would like to hear about your theatre – you show yours ours now and we’ll show ours yours later”. Continue reading “Reciprocal Marketing” »

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