2013 was impressively productive for Stan’s Cafe and I’m chuffed to have been involved in projects throughout the year. Here is a downloadable cartoon round-up, by Craig;
School’s out, but unfortunate Year 11 Students at Washwood Heath Academy earned their break this morning by enduring a Geography revision lesson lead by a theatre director who got his ‘A’ Level Geography qualification before tectonic plates were invented. He insisted all the students had been beamed down from another planet to explore the earth and needed to report back their findings. They took it in good spirit and displayed an impressive knowledge of the biosphere, well done them.
Obviously the day our internet service provider staggers under the weight of corporate ‘What we’ve done this year’ propaganda. Which always proves informative if not a bit saccharine after the third dose. This year Craig knocked up our version using Comic Life. If you haven’t had your brain washed enough already you are very welcome to download the comic and digest it – Craig’s jokes sweeten the pill.
My name is Marie Woodhouse and I am a 22 year old University student studying BA (Hons) Theatre at the University of Falmouth. As part of my education in my third year as well as conducting my own practice in context project I was asked to find a placement for the duration of my first semester. Always being interested in immersive theatre, I contacted Katie Day from The Other Way Works to ask if there was the opportunity for some work experience. Following an initial meeting in early September 2013 I began to shadow Katie and the company’s work for three months by attending meetings, workshops and working at the company’s head quarters in King’s Heath.
When I began my placement with Katie I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I was excited and eager to see how a ‘real’ company operates and ready to learn new skills. The first meetings I attended involved the future projects of the company opportunities for funding. Working with freelance producer Thomas Wildish we planned out the next two years for The Other Way Works, including exciting new projects such as After Life and the future of Black Tonic and Avon Calling. During this time I had the pleasure of meeting co-founder Louise Platt, core artist for the company and drama therapist. I was surprised to learn there was a lot more paper work and funding applications than I had anticipated when creating your own theatre company.The reality of work is entirely dependent on the application of money. I realized that to succeed as an artist or a company they are a ‘necessary evil’ in order to produce the work you want to produce.
Following these meetings I was inspired to look at my own work as a student and artist, especially in the context of The Other Way Works’ future project, After Life. The company are basing their performance project on the 1998 Japanese film After Life, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. After Life is set in a derelict waystation, a place where dead souls are taken to be processed before they can move on. Each week a new group of souls arrive and check in, and with the help of the social workers have to replicate as accurately as possible their happiest memory. These memories are filmed and then showcased at the end of the week. As the person watches their memory relived on the screen they disappear and move on into the afterlife, a state in which the person lives in that single memory for eternity.
The Other Way Works want to invite audience members on a residency, bringing them to a boarding house or secluded location. The duration of the performance or experience will last roughly a weekend, in which the audience members will undergo a similar process to the dead souls in After Life. They will have a few days to select a memory, duplicate it and record it, the end of the performance resulting in a showcase similar to the film.
I was shocked, surprised and excited when I heard about this project. I was stunned at how similar After Life was to my own. For my practice in context project I have chosen to look at memories, in how we may recreate and reassign them, to resurrect them. I will be working autobiographically and on site to immerse myself back into the memories of my childhood, in particular those related to a dead relative. What is this allure of recreating memories and how can these be used as a cathartic release when mourning a loved one? Maybe it is the idea of being at peace within ourselves, to capture a beautiful moment and relive it. The moments or memoires within our lives are what bind us to being human. Imagine how it would be to have had no memories, no experiences. Memories are the meat on our bones, what flesh us out as human. Could it be that memories are the only thing that can define us as alive?
The workshops that I enjoyed the most were working with Alyson Fielding and John Sear on the CATH project for Black Tonic. Meeting at the University of Birmingham we had two full days of planning and expanding ideas, allowing the creative juices to flow instead of being stunted by funding applications. We researched new technologies to enhance the level of immersion during performances as well as video games and story ideas and formats, in particular an immersive computer game called Dear Esther. The story follows an unnamed protagonist as he travels through a lonely Scottish Island whilst trying to process the grief for his dead wife, Esther. The player is invited to explore the island as the narrator, gaining pieces of the story in a non-chronological order which you have to decipher yourself. The game features a lot of themes such as lonesomeness, the unreliable narrator and mourning. It reminded me of my practice in context project as the beautiful graphics and interactive play acted as a story-telling implement in regards to loss and memories. I am looking at how memories can be fickle as we only rely on the brain to retain them. If we forget our memories do we forget ourselves? How do we remember the people who have passed on, how do they live in our memories?
Katie introduced me to theatre maker and performance artist Francesca Millican-Slater. I met with Fran to have a discussion about my project as her degree show, Me Myself and Miss Gibbs shared similar messages and themes with my own work as we both investigate how you remember people who have passed on through memory.
As a student interested in immersive theatre my life ambition is to begin an immersive theatre company of my own that helps to educate young people by using exciting and immersive performance methods. I throughly enjoyed my time working with Katie and The Other Way Works and learnt in particular how a founded drama company operates, funds itself and creates work and ideas. Working with the company and seeing how it operates strengthen my future ambitions and gave me new aspirations, confirming my decision that if you want to work in theatre and performance it can be achieved if you are willing to work for it.
Marie Woodhouse, 20th December 2013
Late last month, while I was keeping a longstanding appointment to play Scalextric with teachers at Washwood Heath Academy and Craig was anatomizing melancholy at Ovalhouse, Charlotte went brain to brain with the brains at the launch of The Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value (see photo). Why so? Terrifyingly Stan’s Cafe are the official Artists In Residence for the commission.
Our first duty in this position is to make something to for ‘a major London venue’ on the occasion of Robert Peston‘s provocation talk (4th February 18:00 – 20:30). Last week I zipped down to the venue in order to have a good idea. Fortunately, with five minutes to go before the good idea had to be explained to The Commission’s Chair the good idea arrived. Double fortunately the idea was indeed deemed to be good. Sometimes a bit of pressure helps clarity of thinking.
This first provocation event hasn’t
The Christmas decorations are up at Little Earthquake HQ, and we just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support over 2013. It’s been a busy year for us and you can read all about it in our latest newsletter.
We have lots of exciting plans for next year and we’re both looking forward to seeing you again soon. Until then, we hope you have a very merry Christmas!
Gareth and Philip
After a sell-out premiere at The Lowry in Salford, our tour of The Tell-Tale Heart continues throughout Winter 2013 and into Spring 2014, with more dates being added to the schedule as they’re confirmed.
Thank you so much for an amazing theatre experience! Theatre of Cruelty at its best! Both myself and the students cannot stop talking about the performance. Brilliant to see some thought provoking and challenging theatre that really opens our students’ minds to the possibilities of theatre.Simone Mallon, Curriculum Leader of Drama, Penketh High School, Warrington, on The Tell-Tale Heart
We’re really chuffed by the audience response to the show and looking forward to sharing it with more people up and down the country over the coming months.
During our recent visit to the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton, our resident photographer Jessica Oates came in to take some snaps of Laurence and Iain in action. You can take a peek at what she captured here.
Many of our local supporters have been asking if we’ll be performing the show in Birmingham, and we can finally announce that, yes, we will! We’ll be visiting the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham on Thursday 6th February 2014 at 8pm. Tickets are now on sale…and what a wonderfully creepy Christmas present they would make…! For more information, you can go to the mac website here.
We hope you can join us!
Our Artistic Director, Janice Connolly, will be leading a six week free comedy course at the Light House, Wolverhampton on Monday evenings in January/February 2014. If you’ve ever wanted to try writing and performing your own stand-up material, this is the time to do it! We would particularly like to encourage members of our diverse black and minority ethnic communities to take part. At the end of the course we host a Community Comedy Night where course participants will be able to share their material with local audiences alongside a professional headline act. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org