Monthly Archives: September 2010

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Acronym Convergence

Intriguing news reaches the Stan’s Cafe office: LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) are moving their offices into the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts). It’s a bold move and potentially a significant statement about how the festival’s new-ish director, Mark Ball, sees the future.

After years in the East End where it fed off regional development type money, the festival now returns to The Mall at the very heart of the city (much more convenient for the Queen to pop in). What makes the move especially startling is that, after a period in the late 80s and early 90s, when performance was programmed by Michael Morris and then Lois Keiden and the ICA was the place to go in London to see contemporary theatre, it totally lost interest in the form. I’ve got a vague memory that Toshiba sponsored the venue and Ekow Eshun took over as director and explicitly said that the ICA was going to be focused on the digital now and that there would be no more performance. I may be wrong but the truth of the matter is that the ICA has been off the agenda for interesting theatre for well over a decade.

And so the intrigue, are the ICA just after a bit of LIFT rent or will their cohabitation mean more than that? Mark has a strong interest in Live Art and the digital realm, as can be seen in his 10 years directing the Fierce Festival, so it could be that he is moving LIFT to the ICA aesthetically as well as physically. What would be a real coup is if Mr. Ball has pulled off some ill disguised Trojan Horse strategy and is able to open the ICA’s doors to theatre types again.

Watch that space (but not until 2012 when the next LIFT festival is due).

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Sleepers and Audience Required


Tuning Out With Radio Z is back and in London at Arts Depot soon (Friday 8th & Saturday 9th October), if you live anywhere nearby do come along, it will be well worth it. Bring friends, send friends, let’s get a crowd going. It’s our first time in the venue so we’re going to have to bringing our own crowd.

The following week the show moves to Warwick Arts Centre (14th, 15th & 16th). For this gig we are just opening volunteering opportunities for five people to sleep on stage through the show each night. If that sounds like your kind of thing please email:

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Steely Eyed Driver


The Black Maze completes an epic journey and is delivered safely to the Domaine d’O, Montpellier, ready for next week’s punters. Avast ye, all doubters who thought the old dog had had its day!

With the cobwebs blown out of the cylinders, the trusty Iveco purred along motorway and autoroute. Day One saw us cross the Thames and later that night La Manche. Slipping into the town of Calais under cover of dark we were followed and accosted by two carloads of drunken women at the lights, climbing out of their cars to get a closer look; gesticulating suggestively.

Day 2 is the sombre north – Picardy, The Somme and Ile de France. Attempts to avoid Paris are hopeless – The Maze and me end up sightseeing by default; we revisit Cergy-Pontoise (scene of former Stan glories), we get to know Versailles, then wind up within view of the Eiffel Tower before heading out of the Seine Valley in 2nd / 3rd gear toward the wide open flatlands that lead us to Orleans.

On Day 3 I leave the Maze parked up because we’re in ‘no-commercial-driving-on-a-Sunday’ France. I wander the quiet streets once trod by Joan of Arc’s horse. I’m kind-of missing The Maze but I know a day apart is good for us. We’re strong enough to cope.


By Day 4 we’re bracing ourselves for the big one; further south through the rain past Bourges, the volcanoes of Clermont-Ferrand, and over the Central Massif. The Maze is working hard. The landscape is spectacular and I’m reunited with memories of visiting those fabulous places – Le Puy, Severac, Conques with their chateaux and their monasteries. Up high the clouds disperse and as if by magic, we’re in the South of France. Unmistakable. Stunning viaducts and bridges offer gob-smacking views of the Romanesque villages. The colour of the rock changes from white to red (the Roussillon) to golden. I’ve started the day’s drive wearing four layers and now I’m trying to shed them. A winding precipice route takes us forever downwards and finally we’re on the route into Montpellier. The sun is shining and everyone looks gorgeous…until I catch a glimpse of myself in the rear-view and realize that 4 days in the saddle requires a scrub up.

This morning, I emptied out all the kit for It’s Your Film, Apollo Steps and The Maze. Little did I know my cargo, which was tightly packed throughout all of the labyrinthine corridors of the truck like some crazy puzzle. I flew back to Gatwick this afternoon and am almost home now, but looking forward to returning to France next week when the goodly folks of Montpellier will be presented with a Stan triple-bill.

Graeme Rose (for more detail and photos visit Greame’s blog)

SharpUgly Theatre's Facebook Wall: have their first ever review: …There is jealously, outrage, adultery, love and…

have their first ever review: ...There is jealously, outrage,
adultery, love and loss. It is so much at the heart of the human experience
that it is probably enacted through angst-ridden and tearful conversations in
toilets cubicles somewhere near here every single night. This is a clever
piece with wonderfully honest and raw writing and I hope to see more of their
work before too long - Jane Howard.

We Are Fierce: Friday and Saturday nights at Interrobang 2: Relationships

The lovely folks at This is Tomorrow, the contemporary art website, have compiled a virtual digest of programme highlights from Friday and Saturday nights at the Interrobang this weekend. There are lots of beautiful pictures (including this gem, above) and a selection of mini interviews with artists who took part in the Stoke Newington International Airport [...]

Script Online: Little Brother’s Big Opportunity

BAFTA award winning television and film production company Little Brother Productions is offering a talented new writer £1000.00 to develop an original television drama idea of theirs through to treatment stage. Little Brother Productions, largely known for its comedy and children’s productions (including Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids and The Revenge Files of Alistair Fury)is now developing their […]

Created in Birmingham » Theatre: Call for Submissions: PILOT Light

PILOT light

‘An evening of barely organised theatrical chaos!’

The next PILOT Light takes place on 14 October at 7.30pm, The Victoria, and is on the hunt for untested, unpolised and unfinished ideas from theatre artists. This is great chance to meet and share your thoughts with like-minded people, where mistakes are welcomed so long as you bring your passion along too.

It’s an opportunity for theatre artists from the West Midlands to test out 5-10 minutes of work that is right at the beginning of its developmental process in front of a curious, confused and courageous audience. It’s also a chance to find out who else is doing what in the area, and make new creative connections.

If this sounds like your kinda thing, email your proposals to by 2 October, with the following information:

Contact/Company Name:
Description of idea (max 200 words):
Length of performance (10 minutes max):
Number and names of all people involved:
Estimate of travel expenses (we have a small budget for travel expenses that will be shared between participants).

Successful applicants will receive email confirmation by 5th October.

© alexjones for Created in Birmingham, 2010. | Add a comment |

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Graeme Rose's Blog: place du Martroi

I have a day off. Not because I think I deserve one, but because the driving regulations in France prohibit the presence of a commercial vehicle on the roads. In all likelihood, The Black Maze might be exempt on the grounds that it is entertainment on wheels, or that it is educational….but we’re not going to wave a flag of dispute in front of the gendarmerie. So I get to spend a day wandering round the fine city of Orleans. I’ve been here before, about 15 years ago, during one of the epic road trips to the Cote d’Azur I took with Sara Liney, but now there’s more opportunity to explore – apart from the fact that it’s sunday, of course, and La France est fermée.

On closer inspection I can get into the Cathedral Sainte Croix with its stained glass depictions of the liberation of Orleans by la jeunesse Jeanne, I can get into La Maison de Jeanne d’Arc where I see replications of her figure and story in print and sculpture. I can get in to the Musee des Beaux Arts where there are several magnificent oils celebrating her arrival through the streets of Orleans in 1429. At each museum I am asked my nationality and am greeted with a stifled snigger. Perhaps it’s because my French is so merdre, or perhaps…. after nearly 600 years I am still blamed for the burning of their martyr?

Joan is everywhere. She is an industry, largely dating from the mid-Nineteenth Century. The Boulevard bearing her name, the bronze statue, the proliferation of her myth in print. Amidst the problems of the emerging Republic (Napoleon III) she could be used as an anchor-point to the Ideals of Liberte, Egalite and …the other one. It was the Age when Wagner was reappropriating the proto-nationalistic mythologies of the Rhine-maidens and also the Age in which the Merrye Old England of Shakspear was being championed. Stratford-upon-Avon remained a sleepy little market town until Matthew Arnold and the mid-Victorians got hold of its famous son and held him to ransom.

La Musee des Beaux Arts does have some excellent pieces tucked away. Amidst a welter of 18th Century portraiture a wonderful collection of local artist Leon Cogniet, a Raymond Mason (he of the destroyed public sculpture that once proudly stood Centenery Sq. in Brum) and the stunningly sexy Tamara di Lempicka oil ‘Saint-Moritz‘, which was a great surprise to see. Much smaller than I’d imagined but which I could’ve studied for hours.

The ordeal of driving a 7.5 tonne truck across Europe, seulement, seems not so bad after all. No need to play the martyr. Off now, from the Loire south to Bourges, then Clermont and beyond – destination Montpellier.

some more pics…

Graeme Rose's Blog: sayonara and bienvenu

So, farewell it is to the City of Setagaya and all the good friends/colleagues we’ve met on our recent Rice adventures in Tokyo. Particular thanks to our performer-translators KAKUMOTO Atsushi and Sumida San, to director Masayoshi, to Akahisa/Kana/Romi and the technical crew for ensuring the smooth-running of the show and ultimately what might pass for the swiftest get-out in Rice Show history. The locals (this means anyone who can get home in less than 2 hours) gave generously of their time to help us navigate through the beguiling intensity of Tokyo life; showing us fine restaurants with extraordinary edibles. For our final evening in Tokyo, Craig and I travelled to the Tama Art University with producer/lecturer OKUYAMA Midori where we instructed her students in the art of ‘getting away with doing what you love doing’. Then it was back to everybody’s favourite meeting place, the dog Hachiko, in Shibuya, followed by more fanciful foods including chewy fish gills on tofu and pop-on-the-tongue delicacy sea grapes. Tokyo is rammed full of eating houses, often tucked away in alleys or basements and sadly I think I’d struggle to re-find any of the brilliant places we were taken to.

The remaining hours were spent drinking with the Blue Man team and it gets a bit hazy in the memory…we didn’t do Karaoke nor did I get to bed before it was time for the airport pick-up. Trying to use a long-haul flight as recovery time is never a good idea, as I’ve previously found to my detriment… but there was time for another treat in store. At the Gate I bumped into old friend Nigel Cliffe, on his way home with the Royal Opera House after a 3-week stint in Tokyo. Nige was part of team for the original production of Vesalius – a Requiem (1996-8) and also sang basso in solitary (1998-9). If I was mindful of the cost and practicalities of transporting Stan’s Cafe to Tokyo, I needn’t have been so worried. The ROH had a team of 250 people out there! So many, infact, that they couldn’t get them all on one plane (…or maybe that’s for reasons of insurance).

It seems Japan has a great appetite for British Culture and the Arts is a succesful export to that land. The youth culture clearly references a British equivalent with freeform borrowing and re-invention. I was amazed at the number of Union Flag images that were displayed – on clothing, bags, posters – but moreover, impressed with the way the Japanese have adopted it as a design motif and have riffed on it. Maybe it’s because the liberal culturati back home tend to reject the vocabulary of nationalism these days or maybe it’s because Britpop and Punk still hold their currency amongst the Japanese youth, long after it has waned back home? I looked for similar takes on the Stars & Stripes but found none.

A second observation on the visual culture of the streets in Japan concerns the prevalence of small furry cartoon creatures, often of indistinct species. Images of baby pets are everywhere. They’re on adverts, on public information notices, on lamp-posts, on ticket machines. As you enter the subway at Shibuya you hear a recording of birdsong. You see cutely dressed miniature dogs being wheeled around in specially designed buggies. You see shops selling dog and cat outfits – dog scarves, dog dresses, even dog lingerie!

Japanese life may be highly ordered – some might say repressed – but I was struck with how safe it feels there. Amidst the busyness and mayhem there is a peacefulness. Nothing threatening or edgy to my mind. The only words of anger I heard turned out to be a European couple having an argument (in English, of course) on the street. So, the correlation I’m trying to draw here is this; pervasive imagery of soft, cute, furry creature makes for peaceful, calm persons.

Charlotte and I pounded the superheated streets from the Tsukiji Fish Market, through Ginza, past the Imperial Palace to the Diet (Parliament) Building, where we encountered about 8 police riot buses parked up. Each of them had a notice fixed to the passenger entrance – replete with cute furry animal.

I may have to give the Pokemon phenomenon a second glance after all, if only to see if it sheds some light on this theory.

If I travel to a new City I find the best way of understand it is by getting out of it in order to revisit it. Getting out of Tokyo was nigh impossible as it seems to extend endlessly in all directions (including re-claimed land in the sea). Nonetheless I will attempt a leftfield response under the persona of Harry Juku, Taste of Tokyo – a contribution to ARC’s Bawdyville next weds – which I’ll be performing with Kindle Emily.

For now, though, I am in Orleans, France – driving to the Domaine d’O, Montpellier with The Black Maze. A bientot, mon Blog.