Monthly Archives: September 2011

Birmingham Repertory Theatre - Latest Posts for News: Spring And Summer Season 2012 On Sale!

As The REP marks its second year off-site we are continuing to perform at other venues across the city including mac, The Old Rep Theatre, A E Harris, Birmingham’s Central Library and other community libraries, the ruins of a medieval castle and even a city centre promenade performance.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre - Latest Posts for News: Spring And Summer Season 2012 On Sale!

As The REP marks its second year off-site we are continuing to perform at other venues across the city including mac, The Old Rep Theatre, A E Harris, Birmingham’s Central Library and other community libraries, the ruins of a medieval castle and even a city centre promenade performance.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Departed Partners

A somewhat plaintive email came through today, the last message from Brightspace – Birmingham’s agents for Creative Partnerships. It’s sad because Brightspace were behind a huge number of inspirational projects that took artists into schools to work creatively with students and teachers. Now, despite a great report from OFSTED setting out the great value of these projects, the plug as been pulled, the axe has fallen, the bubble burst, the goose cooked, the turkey plucked, the swan sung and the full stopped.
Stan’s Cafe missed out on the first wave of C.P. work but were commissioned in 2002 to create a teacher training event and from this time on we did increasing amounts of work for Bright Space until we needed to created a full-time post to coordinate and help deliver it. The post lasted about three years and even after it ceased the majority of our education work has continued to be for either Bright Space or its sister organisation commissioning Creative Partnerships projects in other areas of the country.

Early next month we will sit down to ponder our education ambitions and options post-Brightspace. For now we will remember fondly those partners with whom we worked on all those exciting projects, the students, teachers, fellow artists, creative agents, commissioners and administrators.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Brainy People

Around the country those of us lucky enough to be nominated National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) by Arts Council England (ACE) have been scratching our heads trying to work out what our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be. KPIs are the numbers against which our achievements will be measured in the future. It’s a Somewhat Fraught Undertaking (SFU) because, pitch too low and you appear to be poor value for money, pitch too high and you stitch yourselves up in future years as you fail to deliver on your targets. It’s generally difficult to envisage what a reasonable target is because the Whole Arts Sector (WAS) is undergoing a Massive Convulsion (MC) and Recent Norms (RNs) seem to have gone Out of the Window (OotW). It’s extra tricky for organisations such as Stan’s Cafe whose work doesn’t follow a set pattern and is therefore difficult to predict even in the Most Stable Of Times (MSoT). Charlotte is poring over spreadsheets, I’m pouring coffee (C) and looking for patterns in the bottom of my mug.

Feel no sympathy though, today was as fun as it gets. A sunny cycle ride to the glorious University of Birmingham and the excellent Dr. Erin Sullivan from the Shakespeare Institute. Now, in the past I have got myself into trouble by saying how wonderful it is to be in the company of brainy people, in such a way as to suggest that this is a novelty. So here I’d like to be clear that talking with Dr. Sullivan was brilliant not just because she is brainy (I mix with very brainy people all day every day) but because she is a specialist where I am a generalist, she goes deep where I go shallow, she’s read THE WHOLE of The Anatomy of Melancholy where I am merely 84 pages into the Second Partition. She knows more about ‘the way Shakespeare and other renaissance literature engages with contemporary religious, scientific, and philosophical ideas about what it means to be a living, feeling, and thinking human being’ than I – or perhaps any of us – ever will and I love that. I love basking in presence of great knowledge and thoughtful opinion, I find it reassuring and stimulating.

Dr. Sullivan gave me an hour of her time, which isn’t bad for the price of a coffee. She’s not solved any of the issues I’ve been having thinking about adapting Richard Burton’s book – I wasn’t expecting that, but one day something she said may just spark the thought or make the connection that allows these problems to be solved.

Ed's Home » Theatre: Stop the Clocks

Traditional theatre keeps actors a safe distance away, preferably on a stage. Barring a serious mishap, nothing is expected to go wrong, and the realms of possibility remain confined. Even better, one may watch a play which was written a few hundred years ago, well ingrained in the public consciousness. This will restrict the number of surprises.

Tin Box Theatre Company take a different tack. They invite the theatregoer to a derelict coffin factory at night with no electricity. They lead them through the eerie vacant space by torchlight, gather them in close, and tell them stories of a dead woman.

The show used a range of theatrical tools to tell the story, stimulating all the senses, from the olfactory assault of the dusty old factory, to snatches of physical theatre, close-up storytelling, and audio overlaid with headphones. It was a really great show from a young company, and not creepy as it might have been, for a show in a coffin factory.

mid * point: £5 Tickets for Marat / Sade 14th October – 5th November

£5 tickets for the play that changed British theatre forever

Now in our 50th Birthday year, Anthony Neilson directs Peter Weiss’s Marat/Sade with a fresh take on a dangerous play that taps directly into an undercurrent of social unease.

This unruly, shocking and outspoken piece of theatre sees the inmates of an asylum present a play about the murder of Jean-Paul Marat under the direction of the notorious Marquis de Sade.

A limited number of £5 tickets are available for the performance of Marat/Sade at 7pm on Thursday 20 October – call the RSC Ticket Hotline on 0844 800 1110 and quote ‘Marat/Sade £5 Ticket Offer’. Terms and conditions apply.*

Marat/Sade contains scenes of a sexually explicit nature some of which involve religious imagery and is not suitable for younger audiences. Recommended minimum age 16 +.

Watch the trailer
Watch the trailer, see the Marat/Sade company in rehearsal photos and watch an interview with director Anthony Neilson, talking about his new take on this cult play.


Off Stage & On-line: Off Stage & On-line 2011-09-27 13:21:50


To Keele to dine with the new(ish) Vice-Chancellor, who I’d yet to meet. Nick Foskett grew up in the area and remembers visiting the Vic when our home was the converted cinema in Hartshill, and told me about being in the audience as a child for a particularly memorable production of A Christmas Carol.

It was especially interesting to hear about that in the context of a research project we’re currently engaged in with Keele’s Social Gerontology and Humanities teams, investigating the place of theatre in representations and recollections of ageing with specific reference to the New Vic, which throughout its history has had such an intimate relationship with our local communities. www.keele.ac.uk/agesandstages

As ever at such a dinner, the other guests were fascinating people, including entertaining Michelle Webster, who left me eager to populate my garden with chickens, the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, a charming man who knows the Vic well;and the Bishop of Lichfield, who told me he’d just been visiting a local school where he’d answered questions posed by the students. I’d just hotfooted it from a similar event myself, where the young people involved in our Christmas production had been given a tour of the theatre building.

We’d stopped in the set workshop to answer questions, where an eleven year old girl put her hand up to ask whether we had a powered jigsaw in the workshops (we did). The question the Bishop had had to field at the school was altogether more taxing: a thirteen year old boy, asking whether there was any justification for the invasion of Afghanistan.