Welcome to Stan's Cafe

Casting

May 24th, 2018

You’ve heard it here before any other source, we’ve just opened casting for our brand new studio theatre show THE CAPITAL. As usual we are devising the show between us all, so we’re looking for actors who have good experience of working in this way. We’re seeking performers who are skilled at visual story telling as the show will be wordless. This doesn’t mean years of mime training, but it does mean knowing how audiences read images and how as an actor you make images. The show is about life in a modern diverse city, so we are encouraging applicants from all sectors of society. All the details are in a PDF document here.

Please spread the word.

Catalogue d’Emoji

May 21st, 2018

Should you be planning on drawing up a list called “The most playful, iconoclastic and talented artists currently working in Birmingham” we can help you out with a name… Michael Wolters.

“But surely” you protest “Dr. Wolters is Deputy Head of Composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservertoire and therefore, inevitably, a boring deadbeat”. “Wrong!” we cry “That shows how much you know about these things – nothing!” Continue reading “Catalogue d’Emoji” »

Inspired Illustration

May 21st, 2018

Thursday evening started five weeks ago, maybe two months ago. Thursday evening started when I sent a speculative message to our friend/collaborator Mr. Courage. It started when I first thought that publishing all Stan’s Cafe’s old scripts would be a fun thing to do, but only if they appeared in a set of 22 very slim volumes.

“[Gareth] If you were teaching design at university would it be an interesting / useful / mutually beneficial / noteworthy undertaking for Stan’s Cafe to ‘commission’ you and your students to design the set”

On Thursday evening @ A E Harris over forty first year illustration students from Birmingham City University exhibited their response to our front cover design challenge. Each book in the series was allocated to two students who were furnished with scripts, essays and notes on influences from music, film, the visual arts, history and science. They had five weeks to explore, experiment and deliver a cover inspired the something in that content. The results were spectacular. Continue reading “Inspired Illustration” »

No longer live from the national theatre

May 13th, 2018


Photo by Mark Barnett

On Friday I suffered a mild, but nevertheless unexpected attack of ‘post-show blues’. The affliction is widely acknowledged; after a period working intensely with a group of people on show the euphoria of the last night’s performance is often followed by aching induced by the show’s sudden absence and a sense of bereavement brought on by no longer being part of that closely bonded team.

I thought I had developed a cast-iron immunity as the stress of overlapping projects inoculates against the absence and full time colleagues and a loving family mask bereavement. However, travelling back from Leicester following the third and final performance of Live From The National Theatre I couldn’t quash a sense of the blues mixed with a certain melancholic satisfaction of a challenging mission accomplished. Continue reading “No longer live from the national theatre” »

De Montfort University Show

May 7th, 2018


Trailer made by final year students at De Montfort University.

We are down to the knuckle chewing last few days before Live From The National Theatre opens. This is our collaboration with final year students at De Montfort University in Leicester. There was a phase when we regularly made shows with university students but this is my first effort for a decade and with Craig, Lucy and Amy off to Dartington to help students at Plymouth University make their own shows it feels an apt moment to talk about making shows with students. Continue reading “De Montfort University Show” »

Creative Learning Recruitment: Graphic Designer/Illustrator

May 4th, 2018

billesley primary school

We are seeking to recruit a Graphic Designer/Illustrator to work with us and students in Billesley Primary School, south Birmingham creating a book entitled ‘What Is A School?’

Through Summer and Autumn terms 2018 we are working on a whole school project called “What Is A School?” Each year group is exploring philosophical questions about what schools do, how education has changed, the range of different schools today and what education and schooling might look like in the future. The project culminates in the production of a non-fiction book summarizing its findings, authored by the pupils and intended to be read in other primary schools.

The role of the Graphic Designer / Illustrator is to take charge of the look of the book and see it through the printing process. This will also involve working with the children so that they gain an insight into the roles and skills of a designer.

To find our more about this role please download the information sheet HERE.

To apply please send a CV, links to examples of your work and a cover letter explaining your interest in, and suitability for this role to Craig Stephens, Associate Director, Stan’s Cafe craig@stanscafe.co.uk

Please also complete and send the equal opportunities monitoring form available HERE on our website.

The closing date for applications is Thursday May 17th, 6pm. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to attend an interview in Birmingham on Friday 25th May.

You can discover more about the history and range of our Creative Learning work by visiting the Education and Training section of our website HERE

We look forward to hearing from you.

Book Royalties

April 20th, 2018

The publishers Bloomsbury have a series of tabs at the top of their website to steer visitors towards the category of book they are searching for: Fiction, Non-fiction, Academic, Children’s and Harry Potter. What an unbelievable cash cow that young wizard must be for everyone involved!

We’ve just received the first royalty cheque from our very own cash gerbil Devising Theatre With Stan’s Cafe. It may not have been a big cheque, but it was a good feeling to know the book is out there being bought and (hopefully) read.

Given that we are currently being undercut by our own publishers and assuming that for such books sales tail off rather than snowball, we have perhaps had the best of things financially; nevertheless we will continue to reap practical benefits as those eager students who regularly email us asking ‘how do you get your ideas?’ or ‘how do you devise your shows?’ can now be pointed to the book rather than having to be written more bespoke answers and pointed towards our magical Harry Potter Helpful Things tab.

This

April 13th, 2018

This – a new performance from Tate n Lyle on Vimeo.

One privilege I have is that people often invite me to art stuff and occasionally I am able to attend. Yesterday at DanceXchange a duo called Timber and Battery shared a work they have in progress called This. Avid followers of this blog will know that I have reservations about the ‘WiP’ concept but this was fun and very much resembled a finished performance.

This is currently a 30-40 minutes long structured improvisation in which two performers explore the fabric and function of two fold-away tables. A time-lapse video (posted above) gives you some sense of what happens but also completely misrepresents the piece.

As audience members we are free to explore, to watch from a distance or come close and inspect how the mass produced objects have gained individuality through use. The performers help us study each table’s detail, the rivets, the hinges, the caps, coated metal and polymer. We have demonstrated to us each table’s geometry, its balance points, movements, squeaks and judders. We watch with concern as the material limits of each table are tested in ways the designers and manufacturers can never have imagined them being tested.

This stripped-down, performance style with its limited vocabulary of isolated words “this”, “that”, “here” is direct and engaging, bringing to mind the playful work of one of my performance heroes Gary Stevens. With the occasional lull I enjoyed This very much.

Afterwards there was a bit of a chat with the artist for which four of us audience stayed to contribute our observations. If This comes near you I’d urge you to see it and tell me what you think.

A Capital Image

April 11th, 2018

As much as we’d love to think of our shows exclusively as works of art they are also inescapably products. These products need to be sold, to sell them they must be described and describing them can be difficult, especially when the shows have yet to be made.

We recently faced this challenge describing our new show THE CAPITAL. Tickets have just gone on sale for premiere performances at The REP in October so back in March and early April we were focused on describing the show for prospective audiences using just 150 words and an image.

With an unmade show this process of description becomes a part of its making. Our responses to different drafts of text and image teach us what we do and don’t want this embryonic show to become.

In the first of a three part series about ‘marketing as making’ Simon Ford gives us a generous insight into the steps and missteps, cul-de-sacs and leaps of inspiration that took him from Graeme Braidwood’s photo of Amy to an image that we are happy describes an aspect of THE CAPITAL as we wish it to be. To read his ‘entertaining and informative essay’, follow this link.

You can see what The REP made of our text and image by following this link to their website.

Sustainable Development Goals

March 25th, 2018

Global Festival of Action took place earlier this week in the modestly titled World Conference Centre, which is a beautiful facility built in Bonn as home of the West German parliament just before reunification moved parliament to Berlin. Last year this was the Global Festival of Ideas but now is deemed time for action.

Delegates gathered from around the world and the opening plenary session reinforced a message that this was to be a festival not a conference. Alongside official welcomes from representatives of the German Government, City of Bonn and United Nations we were led in a bout of meditation and a somewhat self-conscious few minutes clapping along with a beatboxer whilst ‘making some noise’ for Y? (a very friendly and enthusiastic rapper from NYC). There were numerous exhortations to blitz Social Media with ‘our message’ and to encourage us Yusuf Omar, a very high energy young man from Hashtag Our Stories demonstrated how it only takes 60 seconds to shoot, edit and post a video on a phone in order to our ‘message out’ there. It was dazzling display achieved on a phone considerably more powerful than mine.
Continue reading “Sustainable Development Goals” »


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