Monthly Archives: March 2017

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Brookfields’ Primary Poets

We’ve just had clearance to share a new web-page with you. It documents our winter adventures with years 3 and 4 at Brookfields Primary School. Together we explored their local area taking photographs, we wrote lots of poems inspired by these photographs, created a newspaper with selection of these poems and performed a selection of this selection for parents in the school hall. It was great fun, the photographs and poems are lovely as you can see if you explore the page and the digital copy of the newspaper embedded above.

What a treat to work with such lovely young people and their great teachers.

The Other Way Works: Japan 2017

Artistic Director Katie Day will be heading over to Japan for a two week visit this April.
Supported by an Artist International Development Fund Grant from Arts Council England and the British Council, she will be making new contacts and researching contemporary and traditional elements of Japanese Culture.

As part of the visit Katie has been invited by Akiko Takeshita at YCAM to give a talk about her practice and to feed into the team’s planning for community and education projects currently in development.

Katie will take in temples in Kyoto, Buddhist monasteries and cemeteries in hilltop Koya San, and immerse herself in the high tech contemporary buzz of busy Tokyo.
The focus of her research is to explore Japanese ideas and traditions around memory, retreat, death, afterlife, community and ritual. This research will inform the development of the Afterlife project, which will go into production in 2019.

She’s hoping to catch the end of Japan’s famous cherry blossom season. Do keep an eye on the Blossom Forecast to make sure you’re up to date with all things petal-related.

If you have any suggestions of places to visit or people to meet for Katie whilst in Japan, do get in touch via email or Twitter.

She will be publishing a blog here, and you can also follow her on twitter and instagram.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: The Countryside


In 1995 we performed Voodoo City at Prema Arts Centre, it was only driving away afterwards that I started to consider what a ridiculous event it was. We were importing a lump of urban angst to a beautiful Gloucestershire village. Desecrating their idyll with a vision of towerblocks, concrete and ring-roads. Beside this we’ve always enjoyed our visits to Prema and Dartington and other rural venues but the uncomfortable memory of that Voodoo City clash has probably fed into our caution about performing in the countryside.

Getting dew on the feet isn’t a familiar Stan’s Cafe experience but all that is about to change in July when we perform The Camp somewhere in Shropshire. The unfamiliarity of performing outside in an incontrovertibly beautiful landscape had been starting to freak me out until, out on a run this Saturday in Summerfield Park I spotted a sight that was very similar to a sight I had seen our running the previous Saturday in the lanes of Somerset. Maybe the two landscapes aren’t so different after all.


Coming in late July for 48 hours only: The Camp.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Love Thy Neighbour


Presumably the license plates led to the hire firm and the hire firm pointed to the address and so, within hours, armed police were swarming into q flat and by the morning national news journalists and their dish topped TV trucks had formed a secondary cordon around uniformed officers. The 128 bus edged its way past. A tendril of national news has reached out to us. Its spotlights are set up on our pavements.

How sad the circumstance. How cowardly the action. How banal the imagination. How tragic the trade. We are sewn together.

When The Pope visited The Oratory less than 100m away this same pavement was packed with happy cheering crowds.
Close by a victim of terrorism and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai received her education.

Closer by still nine of the world’s most powerful men sat down to dinner in 1998.

Practically close enough to cast their late evening shadows on this same pavement stand the brick and mortar models for Tolkein’s two mythic towers.

Within spitting distance, through another squashed door up another flight of stairs Chut the Tailor made Andy’s bespoke presidential suit for Lurid and Insane.

The psychogeography of this locale has grown deeper, the pavements gained another, darker, unwanted patina. Remember: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.

Women and Theatre: Volunteer opportunity – April-July 2017

We have an opportunity for 2 individuals to join us for a new project working with women in Sparkbrook.  Open Doors is a storytelling project capturing the experiences of real women and developing them into a high quality production that will be performed at mac birmingham in July.

Volunteers will support the creative team during the research, rehearsal and performance phases of the project and will be required to be available on the following days:

Thursday 27 April, 4, 11, 18 May and 29 June: Research

Monday 3 – Friday 7 July: Rehearsals

Sunday 9 July: Performances

Please email for information on how to apply.  Application deadline Tuesday 4 April. GIG GUIDE: APRIL 2017

Uncle Armando


[LE1 5JN]

The Same Faces:  Monthly Leicester show, taking ideas from you to make brilliant comedy sketches live on stage.


[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin:  Free improvised comedy show in Birmingham with support by a headline act from one of the UK’s top improv troupes.  Headlining this month: The Kneejerks


[LE3 0GA]

Uncle Armando:  A guest stand up comedian improvises monologues, based on your one-word suggestions, and our players will then improvise brilliant scenes based upon them.


[B1 1BN]

Freewheelers: Free comedy showcase in central Birmingham.  Headline act:  Previously On, who perform a brand new season finale of a TV show.


[NG1 6FG]

Gorilla Burger:  Regular Nottingham show where everyone is welcome to take part, simply by putting your name in a hat.


[CV1 1JD]

Wow impro:  Free comedy night from Coventry-based improv troupe.


[B18 6AD]

Box Of Frogs:  Monthly show in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter with all your favourite improv games.  Absolutely free, with their usual cast iron guarantee – ‘laugh, or your money back!’


[B1 1BN]

The Kneejerks:  A night of comedy and theatre, featuring sketches and scenes and all completely free.


[B1 1LT]

Hilarity Ensues:  Monthly show in central Birmingham featuring stand up, sketch and improvised comedy.


[NG1 5ND]

Showstopper – The Improvised Musical:  The Oliver Award winners bring their amazing show to Nottingham.


[NG1 5ND]

The Showstoppers’ Kids’ Show:  This show designed for children takes the talents of The Showstoppers and makes them do it all for kids.


[B1 1BN]

Freewheelers: Free comedy showcase in central Birmingham.  Headline act:  Watch This, the University of Birmingham Improv group.


[CV37 6LU]

Austentatious: Join the all-star cast as they create a riotously funny new literary masterpiece in the style of Jane Austen, based on nothing more than a title suggested by the audience.


[NN1 4AE]

The Same Faces:  Monthly Northampton show, taking ideas from you to make brilliant comedy sketches live on stage.

Have I missed a show?  Get in touch and let me know.                                    @MidlandsImprov

Women and Theatre: TUC Annual Women’s Conference

The Trades Union Congress – Annual Women’s Conference took place in early March and featured speeches, talks and discussions on the progress on women in the work place. There were around 350 delegates present showing support and solidarity for TUC Women. Women and Theatre performed ‘Sorry’, a monologue written by Susie Sillet from the performance Starting Out. It was an inspirational day that highlighted the work and challenges that women face in the world of work today. JUMPROV – ANOTHER FIRST FOR BRUM


Jumprov is the UK’s first improv theatre company made up of creatives entirely from Black, Asian & Mixed Race backgrounds.  And all seven of the group are from Birmingham.

Their debut show will take place at The Old Joint Stock Theatre located in Birmingham City Centre in May.  Audiences will experience a hilarious 90 minute show, made up completely on the spot featuring classic improv games with the Jumprov twist.

Sunny Dhap, founder of the group, said “Jumprov was born straight out of Birmingham Improv Festival. I was there looking at the audiences, the acts and I noticed it was not representative of our diverse city. I decided to start my own improv theatre company which will help tackle the continuing issue of under representation in theatre, TV & film”

The combined CV of Jumprov members includes a graduate of the Birmingham Theatre School, an appearance on BBC’s “Doctors” and multiple winners of Monologue Slams across the UK.

You can see Jumprov perform at The Old Joint Stock Theatre on Thursday 4th May 2017 at 8PM. Tickets £10+BF via

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Universities


Our agent at Birmingham University tipped me off about a free public lecture by Dr. Elaine Fulton for the Cadbury Research Library. Knowing my fondness for and familiarity with The Anatomy of Melancholy the agent thought I may be interested in The Nuremberg Chronicle; indeed I was. I went and I learned some stuff, another piece in the vast jigsaw of everything that will never be completed. Anyway that’s not the point, the point is – what an amazing treat it was to be able to go and listen to a clever person at a university talk about something interesting but obscure for 45 minutes and this reminded me how much I love universities, which is a lot.

Musing on this some more, while ambling around the glorious Birmingham University campus, I came to recognise that one of the reasons I currently find universities so comforting is they seem to be the only institutions in the country that are thriving. The lecture was in the shiny new Bramall Music Hall, yards from the university’s brand new library and the 50m swimming pool, sports and fitness centre which will be opening very soon. In the city centre Birmingham City University is also building like crazy. At a time when the entire public sector is in the grip of punishing financial hardship universities appear to be awash with more money that they can reasonably be expected to spend. What’s going on?

If you talk to lecturers the suggestion isn’t that they’re in the lap of luxury, they claim money is being spent on buildings rather than people. Are universities paying cash for all this building work with receipts from student tuition fees? We’re told that tuition fees are there to prevent the roof from falling in rather than the buildings going up. So are these universities taking out the equivalent or mortgages? Are we witnessing a fear driven form of arms race in which universities seeking to attract students via ever more impressive facilities? Alternatively are these erections the manifestation of vice chancellor’s competitive egos? Or are they are all just super-eager to give their students and staff the best facilities possible in which to learn? Are we witnessing a university bubble akin to the housing bubble and if so will it burst and if so when and what does it look like when a university goes bankrupt? Can we buy expect to buy a particle accelerator cheap at Biddle and Webb? I hope not, I love universities and enjoyed today’s opportunity to learn about The Nuremberg Chronicle.