Friday, January 25, 2008


Slow News Day?

I don't really know what to say about this.

They gave out free copies of The Daily Mail on our flight back from New York. Craig took one, opened it up and this story was all over Page 3. For some reason, like the paper itself, these images make my skin crawl.

Surely the dioramas created by Year 4 at Forestdale School in 'Fruit and Veg City' are far more worthy of national syndication.



Space, Space, Space.

It all seems to be about space in the Stan’s Cafe office at the moment. I’ve casually said, many times, that one great thing about theatre is that all you need to make it is some mates and a space. You do however have to have the space.

Space 1: We need to find a space in which to stage The Cleansing Of Constance Brown in Birmingham. Heading into the Christmas break we had a couple of very promising leads, which evaporated in the New Year. Everything has gone to print saying “City Centre Venue TBC” which hopefully makes the thing sound mysterious and intriguing. We’re not in panic mode yet, we’ve got ideas, we’ve got leads, we’ve got time.

Space 2: We need to find 3,000 square meters of space in which to plonk 120 tons of rice, close Birmingham City Centre for six weeks. We’ve got a date in mind, we’ve got money coming together and we’re chasing space.

Space 3: We’ve still not given up on the notion of having a permanent Stan HQ and are currently in negotiations with property developers on the (remote) possibility that we can work something out together.

How will we get on with our various quests?

Watch this space.


Sunday, January 20, 2008



A decompression chamber would have been useful. With a brief, delightful interlude, escaping with friends to semi-rural Pennsylvania, the intensity of New York ratcheted up and up. Away from home, transatlantic, in that great city, with that show, at a festival, attending a conference, with early morning emails and work calls home, with promoter meetings and plotting sessions and mind racing and running to see shows, it was a gloriously indulgent, selfish, focused, ten day submergence.

We concluded late and intense. The APAP conference closing party was held at the WFC Winter Gardens with us on the bill. Numbers were low but slowly, inexorably grew until it was busy and loved and raved over and, in amongst this crowd, surreally, as if to hammer home “this is an art event in NEW YORK CITY”, Lou Reed. It’s gone One when we leave, the car picks Jake, Craig and me up at Five. We fly the flight, lose travel time plus five: Heathrow to Birmingham in the dark and pissing rain. Triumphant return: Sarah, gifts, sleep and I’m thrown up on the shore, trying to rebuild my relationship with Eve, trying, with little success to persuade her to put her – or at least allow me to put her – shoes on.


Saturday, January 12, 2008


Making The Most Of It.

As well as being part of the arts programme at the World Financial Centre, the show is here as part of the Under the Radar festival of New Theatre and the American Presenting Arts Promoters conference, so there is much more at stake than just making a good show. So far things are going very smoothly.

On Thursday I was fortunate enough to have the chance of being ‘in conversation’ on stage with Kristy Edmunds, who promoted us at the Melbourne International festival and Bruce Gladwin, of Back to Back Theatre. As this was part of the festival’s opening plenary it was a great way to whip up interest in the show in front of all the delegates. A wonderful side-effect was that it made mine a familiar face about the place and ever since people seem to be very happy to just come up and say hello, which is wonderful.

‘Break-out’ sessions at conferences are often dull affairs but here everything was foreign and thus fascinating. Special guest at our discussion was Ping Chong, whose work I have only heard about, but his warm, composed presence was enough to make me a fan. When asked how much he would charge for his presence he had jokingly quoted a rate of $3 per hour. At the close, against his protests 25c was gathered from each delegate to pay his ‘fee’.

Down at the venue things have been going ballistic. The show opened to 50 people, 150 visited on the second and over 300 passed through yesterday. With little media coverage this is a case study of Word of Mouth power. 30,000 people work at the World Financial Centre so we’re not going to run out of audience, the question is what will happen over the weekend?

Socially things have been a bit strange. My day starts three hours before the show opens so I miss everyone at breakfast. Then I spend most of my time Uptown at the conferences with Charlotte M and Nick S, who are here to help exploit the showcase opportunities. We make occasional dashes Downtown to the show, but immediately get caught up talking to promoters about how the mechanics of touring the show work and how much it may cost them. I have then spent most of each evening in the theatre exploiting the chance to see a host of shows which are unlikely to ever make it to the UK. We have managed one major gathering, late on Thursday, in a dive, drinking terrible beer, soaking up the great atmosphere, celebrating being here, being together and it being my Birthday.



Thursday, January 10, 2008


We Are Art Souls

The cab driver was Romanian and some kind of slowburn Gnostic. He learnt we were setting up an art show and pronounced that there was not enough art in the world. To make art you must have soul and today people are without soul. Having just stepped from the World Financial Centre it wasn't a perspective Amanda, in the front seat, felt moved to contradict. Rocketing up FDR Drive the subject turned to a Future Global Dictatorship, a conspiracy theory he had heard that day and relayed sardonically, as if testing or teasing us.

After slow progress on Monday, the show took shape rapidly on Tuesday and opened yesterday well developed. Ironically the piece looks much better around the highly polished sunlit balcony than in the actual gallery space, which is slightly gloomy with a scruffy concrete floor.

Jack is the poster boy for this incarnation of the show. It’s Graeme’s picture of him tending rice piles in Bocham that has been picked up by the venue and graces banners and brochures and screens. Five vitrines placed around the public concourses have caused a stir so audience numbers should build from a promising start. The vitrine placed at the entrance to the American Express HQ caused such a stir that some agent of the corporation leapt to phone and check who “authorized” the use of 65,800 grains of rice to represent their global workforce alongside all the teachers, police officers and taxi drivers in New York City. They also wanted to know where the number had come from. It all got smoothed out easily enough, but such twitchiness makes you want to bundle certain people into a big yellow cab and give them a dose of the slowburn.



Monday, January 07, 2008



The cabin crew were late but it’s a tough call to leave without them, so the flight was delayed. Immigration was slow so by the time we were reunited with Karen and Jake in Arrivals they’d pretty much taken root. They’d both flown in from the East Coast having wound up the show in L.A., with luck our collective jetlag will cancel out.

The Hotel is great, a block from the Chrysler Building on Lexicon and 47th, but infernally hot. It poses that classic conundrum, it’s too hot to sleep but if you open the window it’s too noisy to sleep, you can’t turn on the air conditioning because then your conscience won’t let you sleep. I couldn’t sleep.

It’s great to be here though and it’s a big day today: ‘Load In Day 1’.


Thursday, January 03, 2008


A New York Trailer

We're in the mix it seems.


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