Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

The Value of Research

December 18th, 2014


Through illicit back channels I got temporary access to a volume on the history of the Benshi in early Japanese cinema. I read it fast, taking notes and returned it whence it came before it was missed overdue. Yesterday Craig and I were in the rehearsal room running through early versions of a scene for our new show, A Translation of Shadows, we were discussing the narration we had written for one of the scenes in the film we have made. In search of clues I flicked through my notes from said book and mentioned that the Benshi always narrated their films in the past tense. We had written ours in the present tense. Hasty re-writing proved that past tense is better but being able to flick back and forth between the two is better still. So once again the value of research is proved, even very small observations like this can make a big difference.

Charlotte’s Party

December 17th, 2014

Photo: Jonathan Blackford

On Friday we threw a party for Charlotte our General Manager because she is leaving. It was a good night.
Continue reading “Charlotte’s Party” »

British Values

December 11th, 2014


Yesterday at 08:00 the first joint meeting of the Stan’s Cafe Partner Schools Network was convened at Billesley Primary School. Under discussion were ‘British Values’ as set out by OFSTED and the British Government. Our schools are required to teach these values and give evidence of that teaching. Our gathering of four Headteachers and an Religious Education Teacher spent an hour identifying how they could address this problem and help each other in doing so. It was great to see the Network in action for the first time and to find everyone so galvanized. Watch this space. Action will follow.

In truth action did follow immediately. I immediately retired to a Cafe and bought a full English Breakfast and ruminated on how Stan’s Cafe could help its partners in this tricky field.

(h)experiment Commissions

November 28th, 2014


I love using formal constraints as a means of unlocking unexpected theatrical delights. An example is our attempt in Be Proud of Me to restrict the text to only sentences found in tourist phrase books. Simple Maths and The Cleansing of Constance Brown were physically constrained and The Just Price of Flowers had structural rules for which characters could appear on stage together in any given scene. Continue reading “(h)experiment Commissions” »

Visa Time Again

November 27th, 2014


Yesterday was another triumph for Charlotte in our office. Craig, Rochi and I were at the US Embassy yesterday getting our work visas for The Cardinals tour. Inevitably the process is bureaucratic and each time we go through the process it more requires information to be submitted. When all the information is gathered and the case has been made that there is no one in the US who can do the job we are going there to do then precisely the correct photographs have to be taken and presented in digital and physical form. You need to make an appointment with the embassy and present yourself at the designated time Entertainers, for that is what we claim we are, have an early slot, 8am. Continue reading “Visa Time Again” »

ACE Training

November 20th, 2014


Last week, amid the pouring rain, the game staff of Arts Council England in this region took to the streets of Birmingham on the latest edition of A City Adventure.

Despite the meteorological challenges the staff really got stuck into the activities Craig had set up for them. Change Kitchen provided a predictably delicious lunch before we cracked into an afternoon of reflection.

It was a reassuring day, not only did the adventure deliver the range of experiences we had hoped but the ACE team got stuck into it with commendable enthusiasm and showed a great deal of intelligence, sensitivity and creative thinking in their afternoon session. They showed a strong team spirit, which given the huge upheaval they have experienced in recent months was impressive to see. Obviously the chances of me slagging Arts Council England off on this blog are slim, but here I am genuine in my admiration. Not least for trusting us with a good slice of their pressurized training budget.

Calliope Tsoupaki

November 19th, 2014

Yesterday we experienced the gratifying wonders of the modern world. First thing in the morning we received an email from the Adelaide Festival relaying a message that the Australian Performing Rights Association had got clearance for all the music used in The Cardinals except Hymnos by Calliope Tsoupaki from St. Luke’s Passion. Permission for this hadn’t been refused, it just hadn’t been got. They suggested trying to contact the composer directly.

A search quickly found her website, I sent her an explanatory email and by two in the afternoon my mobile was ringing. We had a very pleasant chat, she said ‘yes why not!’ and within another hour it is all sorted out: wonderful.

Tokyo Filming

November 18th, 2014


Today Craig and I got a glimpse of the video footage Oliver Clark and I shot last week in Tokyo, for our new theatre show A Translation of Shadows it is looking good. Here is a blog post I wrote about that trip but didn’t post at the time. Continue reading “Tokyo Filming” »

Hello to Farewell

November 18th, 2014

I excited to see Imitating the Dog coming to The REP this week with their new show A Farewell to Arms. The company specialize in bringing video projection together with live action in a beautiful and slick way. This facility combined with Hemingway’s plot should be a great combination. Continue reading “Hello to Farewell” »

Cardinals Tour Dates

November 13th, 2014


We have had to wait before announcing all the touring dates for The Cardinals in the New Year because all the different festivals and venues announce their seasons at different times, but at last it can all be made public. Continue reading “Cardinals Tour Dates” »

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