Stan's Cafe: One looks, marvels and understands

UK vs Serbia

June 8th, 2015


Last week national Serbian TV news asked me about the future of Serbian Theatre and it’s qualities in comparison to theatre in the UK. I am clearly in a weak position to opine about UK theatre as I see so little of it, but to be asked about Serbian theatre was frankly absurd. However, with a microphone in my face and the camera rolling “I don’t know” didn’t seem a reasonable answer. Fortunately, in the panic stricken moment during which I was processing the question I realised that although I didn’t “know” I did have an opinion. Continue reading “UK vs Serbia” »

More Lunar Commentators

June 7th, 2015

The commentary ‘highlights’ from Saturday at the Lunar Festival are now available on soundcloud. All part of The Commentator‘s Listen Again service.

The Lunar Commentators

June 5th, 2015


June 2nd, 2015


It is almost a year since we premiered Finger Trigger Bullet Gun at LIFT. The show is about the start of the First World War. Britain gets a prologue and a few fleeting mentions but the show is centred on Berlin, Vienna and Belgrade and history from their perspective. Working on the show taught us an enormous amount of history and some geography. It opened our eyes to how narrow our view of this area of history is. This lack of knowledge combined with the setting a hundred years ago and many hundreds of miles away made the piece feel quite distanced from us, until the final scene brings all these historical incidents crashing, terrifyingly into the present. Continue reading “Bridges” »

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.

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