Monthly Archives: April 2017

Fierce Festival: Club Fierce @ Birmingham Pride 2017

Birmingham Pride kicks off in just a few weeks time and Club Fierce will be at The Alt Club. On Sunday 30th May join us from 7.30 – 8.30pm as Club Fierce DJs warm up for Mykki Blanco!

Across the weekend also look out for Cakes Da Killa who performed at Fierce in 2014, and other Fierce favourites Hercules & Love Affair, Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon, Honey Soundsystem, Dan Beaumont and more!

Tickets can be found here.

Full programme and more info at


Fierce Festival: Call for Proposals: Diverse Actions Leadership Bursaries 2017/18

The Live Art Development Agency (LADA) is offering two Leadership Bursaries of £10,000 each for artists and/or arts workers from culturally diverse backgrounds (BME: Black and Minority Ethnic) as part of Live Art UK’s Diverse Actions programme.

The Leadership Bursaries will support a self-determined, year-long programme of artistic, professional and skills development by artists and/or arts workers.

The aim is to stimulate or enhance new ways of working, the development of new contexts and discourses, and ultimately enhance artistic practice and the capacity for artistic leadership.

Bursary recipients will have access to LADA’s resources and facilities, and be supported by LADA’s team. They will work in close consultation with the Diverse Actions Project Manager. They will also have access to the wider expertise of the Live Art UK network and the Diverse Actions Steering Group, composed of members of Live Art UK and independent artists and advisors.

Application deadline: Noon, Monday 5 June, to support a year-long programme of activity in 2017/18.

More information and application forms are here.

IMAGE CREDIT: Jade Montserrat, Josephine and the Leopard, film still by Webb-Ellis GIG GUIDE: MAY 2017



[CV4 7AL]

The Improv Musical: After three successful runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Improv Musical is back in town for another performance.



[B2 5NY]

Jumprov:  Debut show by the UK’s only BAME improv group, based in Birmingham.


[WV1 1HP]

Uproar!:  The Noise Next Door bring their tour to the Midlands.  A perfect blend of ludicrous characters, witty one-liners, epic stories, and explosive physicality.


[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 Verbs


[B1 1BN]

Freewheelers: Free comedy showcase in central Birmingham.  Headline act:  Warwick Improvised Theatre Society.


[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 the 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!’


[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]

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 1PY]

Rhymes Against Humanity: A brand new, fully improvised musical immediately – no scripts, no conferring, no pre-planning.


[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

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Artist/Designer Call Out


We are looking for an Artist/Designer to design and create an image for the main entrance doors to Stan’s Cafe’s performance space @AE Harris. At the moment the doors are looking rather tired and battered and we want to transform them into a distinctive and welcoming entrance.

You can download an ARTIST BRIEF which gives more details and contains images and dimensions.

To apply please send your full colour design in a digital or scanned format along with a brief CV or biog. We’d be grateful if you could also download and complete the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form

Please submit to Laura Killeen, General Manager, at by 10am on Monday 15 May. You can also contact Laura if you have any further questions.

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: The joy of index

worries from Oli Clark on Vimeo.

I love lists. I don’t love them in the classic interview answer way: “I’m a very organized person, I love making lists”; I love them in the cliched contemporary theatre director way: “I love reading lists”.

Lists are a simple way of breaking away from the tyranny of ‘the story’ because they don’t share the rules of a story. They have beginnings, middles and ends only in so far as there is always the first entry, the last entry and some in the middle.

Lots of people share my joy of lists; a few weeks ago I attended a performance which was an hour long list of Worries written by Lucy Harvey and read by Michael Wolters and Paul Norman. I enjoyed the performance very much up to a point and beyond that point I enjoyed considering why I’d stopped enjoying it so much and that led me to consider the challenges of sustaining a really good list.

Long standing friend of Stan and counter of sneezes Peter Fletcher is approaching the tenth anniversary of his legendary list Sneeze Count. His approach is for an almost arbitrary event – a sneeze – to trigger a miniature fragment of autobiographical writing. It’s a great list.

Of course I tend to enjoy most the purity of the found list, such as the list of all the Top 40 hits that start with the word Love, which provides the text for our radio piece Love List. A few days ago I was sent a very pleasing list painstakingly put together by the excellent Dr. Mark Crossley, it is the index for our forthcoming book Devising Theatre with Stan’s Cafe. I enjoyed reading it so much I thought I’d share one of my favourite sections with you. This may be in breach of copyright but we’ll risk it.

tasks / task-based, 15, 24, 28, 55, 61, 64-69, 90, 102-103, 110, 113, 118, 142, 160, 170, 174-176, 179, 185, 189, 213, 224, 230-231
Tarkovsky, Andrei, 112, 141, 143-144, 236
tea, 62-63, 73, 149,
tension, 41, 52-54, 59, 84, 100, 130, 172, 182, 185, 227-228
Terry and June, 66
Text, xv, 28, 95-120, 163, 200, 226, 231, 234 REVIEW: JUMPROV


Jumprov are the newest improv troupe in Birmingham and the first in the UK to be made up entirely of non-white performers.  The group was formed to add a different voice to the artform, with the aim of creating a wider variety of scenes and reaching a wider audience.  They succeed in this, simply because the improvisers naturally bring their own point of view to the stage.  This means that this is not just the most ethnically diverse improv show you’ll see, it’s the most Brummie one too.

The show is fronted by Sunny Dhap, founder of Jumprov, who is a likeable and engaging host.  The night is made up of a collection of short scenes, each one following a simple rule which restricts the performers and increases the fun for the audience.  One scene revealed the secret life of objects in a laboratory, another was in the style of Blind Date where the questioner had to guess the secret identity that the other contestants had assumed.  These gave quick, snappy laughs but there were longer, more natural scenes too.  A typical example was the grandchild trying to help their grandmother use a laptop, with all of the lines for one performer coming directly from the latest text messages sent by an audience member.

Many improv shows revolve around two characters standing still and talking to each other, but Jumprov bring a greater physicality to their performance.  There is also a strong use of accents and an awareness of the overall stage picture.  This reflects the talents of the group (David Jackson, Adaya Henry, Marius Turner, Chantal Erraoui, Jay Droch, Jade Samuels and Sunny Dhap) who have a strong collection of acting CVs behind them.  The team is very relaxed and confident together, a fine combination which promises more laughs in future.

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

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Fun Times

Best of BE FESTIVAL UK 2017 from BE Festival on Vimeo.

It’s good to see BE Festival are on the road. They are touring three pieces from the 2016 Festival including one of my favourite shows of that (or any) year Vacuum, which I raved about here. It is around the UK so chase it down.

Closer to our home, we’re looking forward to a rare Birmingham appearance from our Sheffield friends Third Angel. They are bringing their show 600 People to mac.

It’s time to get out and about.

Graeme Rose's Blog: Murder by Person or Persons Unknown

On this day sixty years ago, 19th April 1957, Frederick Jeffs’s life came to a brutal end.

Fred was my grandad’s half-brother, and had spent, as my grandad did, much of the second world war holed up in a prisoner-of-war camp. At some point late in the war – probably following the Death-march westwards from Auschwitz-Blechammer (and away from the advancing Ivans) – they were reunited. By all accounts Fred was a loner; reserved, and behaving at odds with the world around him; opting not to share his Red Cross parcels and disappearing alone into the woods during Allied bombing raids.

Back in a ’50’s Brum deemed fit for returning heroes, however, he seems to have prospered. Fred bought a decent Austin and set himself up with a Confectionary shop on the Parade at Stanley Road, Quinton. He married Betty in 1948, with my grandad as best man, but it wasn’t to last. By the end of 1956 Rock ‘n Roll was here to stay, but Betty had gone back to live with her parents.

I’ve been musing over the details of this story since I was at school, and wrote a first treatment for a staged version while I was in my second year at Lancaster. Dennis Potter would have been proud. My interest in the material re-surfaced in the mid-Noughties, when I revisited the site of the killing in Stanley Road with my dad, who was 19 at the time and remembers the police calling in at Ridgacre Rd. to relay the news and collect my grandad for interview. At that time my erstwhile collaborator Steve Johnstone was directing Foursight Theatre’s The Corner Shop, and Fred’s story was transposed to one of the narrative threads in that remarkable project which was installed inside empty shop units at the Mander Centre and West Bromwich Shopping Centres.

Following the success of Un-Earth, the large-scale, site-specific, music-theatre collaboration between my company The Resurrectionists and mac productions in 2004, we discussed a multi-site theatrical re-rendering of the Jeffs case, but the timing and momentum just didn’t seem right.

Anniversaries bring their own momentum, and I am painfully aware that 60 years on, the number of living witnesses to this event will have diminished considerably. Strange to think that 30 years ago I felt like the late ’50’s were ancient history, and since then the same passage of time has occurred.

By way of opening up the conversation on these events, and importantly passing it on to the latest inheritors of the story, I visited the Library of Birmingham today with my son, Jacob. We trawled through the archive press cuttings of the day, reigniting my fascination for this extraordinary story.

Birmingham Post_Sat 20th April 1957

Birmingham Post & Gazette, Easter Saturday, 20th April 1957

Stan's Cafe Theatre Company: Neuroscience Conference


Where better to fry your brain than the British Neuroscience Association Festival of Neuroscience?

The various stall holders here insist that none of their equipment will fry your (or a mouse’s) brain, merely measure or stimulate it’s activity. This is more than some of the speakers can guarantee, but then that’s not their fault, I’ve the right to be here but no right to understand anything that’s being said.

As it turned out ‘Biased liganal signalling for k-opioid receptor agonists and antagonists’ turned out to be moderately comprehensible, possibly due to the near vertical learning curve encountered sitting through ‘mechanisms of mu-opioid receptor desentizaition and tolerence’ and ‘Ligand bias at mu-opiod receptor’.

What am I doing here? Well you may ask and well I too may ask. We are planning a ‘thing’ so broadly speaking I’m here to research this ‘thing’ but I’m not looking for the answer to a particular question, more after clues. I’m mostly just enjoying being in an entirely different world full of people who specialize in things I know nothing of.

Seminar 27: ‘Towards a causal understanding of motor learning in humans: a role for non-invative brain stimulation’ was less pharmacological and more psychological and manageable for the novice bystander.

Alon Chen gave an interesting plenary talk about the neuroscience of what may help or hinder recovery from acute stress and at the end of the day everyone got to hear from a real-live Nobel Laurette (whose research I had heard about before). May-Britt Moser researches into the brain’s mechanisms for representing space.

The easiest ‘take home’ item from the day was how at the of everyone’s talk they all put up a slide naming everyone in their team who had worked on the project, usually with a team photograph of them all looking happy together outside a university building. I will endeavor to adopt this approach in all future talks I give.