Tuesday, November 10, 2009


New Stan's Cafe Website

We have just launched our new website - well really it's just a new homepage - but the idea is that that now becomes more like a blog - a page that we will update more regularly, that will be able to talk about more things and that you will be able to comment on.

So from now on for all your Stan's Cafe needs you need simply visit www.stanscafe.co.uk


Monday, November 09, 2009


Kellerman at Warwick Arts Centre

We looking forward to going to Warwick Arts Centre on Wednesday to see Kellerman. the latest piece to be directed by our old mentor Pete Brooks. For the last few years he has been teaming up with a company called Imitating the Dog and there is some excitement around seeing what he’s come up with now.



Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Ellroy is Back

It's been a long time coming but James Ellroy is back with a new novel, Blood's A Rover. This event doesn't cause the excitement in the Caff camp that it once may have. Back in the day when Amanda introduced his work to us I imagine it was like Heroine being introduced to Miles Davies' band, none of us managed to do any work until we'd exhausted the supply of L.A. Noire.

It may sound nuts but the writing in Home of the Wriggler was influenced by Ellroy's increasingly boiled down style. Given how epigramic his last novel was I he has continued the boiling down process this one will consist entirely of acronyms.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Kindle @ A E Harris 2

The Kindle Eat Your Heart Out show had its press night tonight, which I was kindly invited to. They've made a fantastic job of dressing the space, right from the hand painted Box Office sign, though the upturned car and dried leaves in the courtyard, giving us jam jars for the bar drinks and on through the show. There is live music and a meal, a feast in every way.

Nina Smith puts in a great performance as The Aide (essentially the narrator and guide through this promenade performance), charming and terrifying by she is Peggy Mitchell gone worse. Three gurning cooks show up, they are charged by their Queen with cooking us, the audience, a meal. This is a tall order, not because there are thirty of us, but because theirs is a post food dystopia. Every where we look there is ‘stuff’ piled high, but none of it edible. There have been all kinds of disasters, natural and man-made and as a consequence, the world has been stripped of every edible morsel, except of course the people.

Much of the show is scene setting. The Aide and The Cooks explain their world, history and challenge. We are given time to explore the scenery, which is spectacular in scale and rewarding in its fine detail. When everything has been explained and explored the time arrives to enter the spectacular white dinning room and to eat the exotic dishes the cooks have managed to summon up for us.

Opinion was divided about the meal. The set-up led people to be cautious about the food, but I’m not squeamish I thought it was all delicious. This period of eating was an enjoyable opportunity to talk with fellow guests about the show and its themes. With eating over the drama wraps itself up with the evening’s strongest piece of text.

Whilst Kindle’s cranked up performance style isn’t one I usually seek out, I did enjoy it in this context very much. Their use of live music, including singing and a small band was always strong and their use of the space spectacular. As always when promoting a show independently the challenge is always to draw an audience. I would urge people to go to say you’ve been. You will probably enjoy it and even if you’re not a fan at the very least it will give you some fantastic stories to talk about over dinner.


Thursday, October 29, 2009


Arts Council Annual Review

Each year we are called to check in at the Arts Council Offices to talk through our annual return, how what we did last year matched with what we said we would do and then to set out what is happening this year and what future prospects look like.

Nick, Charlotte and I rocked up for it on Thursday and it was as uneventful as ever, which is probably no bad thing, drama in these meetings would probably only ever be bad news.



Kindle @ A E Harris

Kindle open their new show Eat Your Heart Out @ A E Harris today. A previous blog said their set was vast, well it's grow considerably since then. The caterers have now moved in too (the show feeds you into the bargain), they have brought with them an impressive amount of very impressive looking catering kit. If there's any justice in the world their enormous hard work should be rewarded with sell-out crowds.

There is now a video trailer for those who are intrigued.



Artists Taking The Lead

I had to go to the Arts Council website to find who had got the Artists Taking The Lead awards.
Does this mean I was out of the news-loop when they were announced, or has journalistic 'outrage' been exhausted where contemporary arts are concerned? Anyway, it was interesting to see who has chosen to do what where.

I was pleased to see that both Lone Twin and The Pacitti company have come up trumps, good luck to them. It's a challenging spin on the fund's terms that The Quay Brothers are coming over to collaborate with artists in Leeds.

To save this from becoming the blandest blog in the UK I have to say the West Midland's project, a Giant puppet of Lady Godiva leading a participatory performance with a cast of thousands, doesn't spark my interest, but then I'm just me, I'm sure others are excited by it.

Follow the link to make up your own minds.



Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Barter Economy

The barter economy lives on. Today the Power Plant team met in our offices whilst we were all variously away and in exchange Jony Easterby fixed our dodgy door handle, ideal.

Where’ve we been? We can’t tell you because:

1: Charlotte is on holiday and we don’t want the paparazzi getting to her.

2: Craig and I have been working on a Steps Series installation which must remain secret until half-term is up in Leicestershire (there's a clue there for the tenacious).



Monday, October 19, 2009


Things to See and Do

A massive set has been constructed @ A E Harris by Kindle Theatre for their production Eat Your Heart Out. At first glance the casual observer may think the tickets quite dear but there is an insane amount of stuff in the plus, live music and food plus they've been working manically hard for ages on it, so essentially it's three nights out in one go and thus good value I would imagine. The show opens on 29th October and runs until 8th November (no show on 2nd November). Follow the link for tickets.


If the good folk of Birmingham value @ A E Harris as a venue then it would be great to see a good crowd turning out for that show and making it a success.

Whilst @ A E Harris has Kindle installing and devising their vast new show in one area, Little Earthquake are quietly working away devising their new touring show, The Houdini Exposure in a smaller corner of the space. Earlier this year I enjoyed their previous production and expect more magic (literally and perhaps figuratively) in Wolverhampton’s Arena on 30th & 31st October.


Finally: time is running out to get my life logistics sorted for seeing Action Hero perform at Warwick Arts Centre. I saw their piece A Western in Edinburgh and liked it very much. It was very simple, engaging and nicely judged. It will be interesting to see how this piece relates to that one.




Another Award

Late last week our collaboration with A E Harris won The Clark Associates Arts and Business Cultural Branding Award. The trophy was a glass sculptural item, quite heavy and delicate enough for us to be relieved it’s going to live in a cabinet somewhere in Harris HQ.

The evening was quite snappy. Craig in his Stan’s Cafe Award Suit appeared to be providing the nights glitzy celebrity sheen until it turned out Patrick Stuart was on hand dish out the glass sculptural items. Previous awards ceremonies have used recorded snatches of famous TV theme tunes to welcome people on stage, here the music was incomparably better, being provided live by the Hot House Big Band. In a further impressive innovation the organisers had booked Stage 2 Youth Theatre to run the technical aspect of the show, which was all very slick. All the awards were ripped through at a brisk pace and we were off into the night, for a small celebratory beer – slightly over-dressed for the pub, but who cares.



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