Monthly Archives: June 2017

Stan’s Cafe Theatre Company: Stupid and disappointed

First it is important you know that I was very tired. It was late at night and I’d just got back from a weekend trip to Germany with Of All The People In All The World when, scrolling though the BBC’s online Glastonbury coverage, an image of Nadia Rose intrigued us enough to eventually persuade our tablet to play her set.

It was UNBELIEVABLY GOOD. I was amazed at how fresh and radical it was. She was fantastic, her all female team were powerful, the whole set was an incredibly complex web of looped beats and wordplay that was like rap fused with the early tape experiments of Steve Reich. Eventually sleep became imperative, we stabbed the damn tablet and at the second attempt got it to shut up. I drifted off content that music was at last exciting again.

The next day, bounding into work like an over exuberant teenager I insisted that everyone listen to my remarkable new ‘discovery’. On listening back Nadia Rose was good but not that good and the radical loop effect that had blown my mind seemed to have disappeared. Gripped horror at my own stupidity and crushed by disappointment, the penny finally dropped, we’d been playing her set twice simultaneously, in two browser windows, one delayed from the other by maybe a second and a half. We had been adding the Steve Reich effect ourselves, Nadia Rose and her DJ/Producer are not geniuses after all, they’re great, but we were bloody idiots.

Stan’s Cafe Theatre Company: Shakespeare Recipe

Here’s the recipe.

Take William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a filleting knife. Cut away any material that can be possibly regarded as fat, leaving a lean narrative, anything remotely repetitive should be cut out and thrown away, retain a hint of poetry for the purposes of flavour.

Next, take approximately 230 Year 8 students, divide them into X Band and Y Band, divide each band into five mixed ability classes, place each class in a room with the text and add a teacher of English, simmer occasionally for half a term.

When the students have absorbed the text, allocate an act to each class in X Band and repeat with Y Band. Ask the teachers to place one student in each roles, with two students to each of the biggest roles (you may have to butter up some of the students first).

Place a cold flannel on your forehead, carefully reading the school’s two week timetable arrange rehearsals with every class five times, ensuring your assistant director only has to attend school on 20 days, avoid teaching any class when they are due to be taught in the schools Learning Resource Centre (library).

Make puppets by sticking cardboard eyes to mops, brooms and other household items, fix coat hangers to the objects and drape them in costumes. Mix the students with the puppets, try and remove the scripts from the stew. Turn up the heat and keep stirring even if you feel you should stand well clear.

After four rehearsals you should see signs of standards rising: some students will have let go of their script, some will remember when to go on, where to stand and when to come off, some will speak loud and clear enough to be heard, some will show signs they understand what they are saying, some will start to use gesture or inflection in their voices; encourage all of these developments by sprinkling in praise, encouragement and advice.

There are public performances of Saltley Academy’s Year 8 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon on 6 & 7 July at 10:00. If you wish to see the production in school on 3 or 4 July at 13:35 this can be arranged if you send us a message to that effect (

Cue further extension of the metaphor – wanting seconds, rich and fruity, flat and stale, turning your stomach Etc. to fade.

Fierce Festival: BE FESTIVAL

Here at Fierce HQ we’re all really excited about the brilliant BE Festival, returning to Birmingham next week 4 – 8 July, at one of our favourite partner venues Birmingham REP. For the last few years BE Festival has brought the heart of Europe here to Birmingham, with an amazing and inspiring mix of artists and companies. One of our favourite things about BE is it’s friendly atmosphere and those special shared dinners where artists can mingle with audiences – and who wouldn’t love to chow down their dinner on the main stage of the REP?

We’re still finalising our diaries and working out which nights we can get to (hopefully all of them!), but we’re particularly excited about Indomador with Animal Religion on Tuesday night; Everything is OK from Marco D’Agostin on Wednesday; Performance Municipal by Vicente Arlandis and All The Voices from Tante & Tante both on Saturday 8th July.

See you at the bar, ‘Karma’ in hand for a drink?

Fierce Festival: Arts Council England Funding News

From Bennett Miller’s Dachshund UN, 2012

Fierce is delighted to report that its application to continue to be a National Portfolio Organisation for the period 2018-22 has been successful.

Fierce’s team and Board are greatly appreciative of the acknowledgement of our work shown by this support, and we’re excited to go forward with our plans for presenting ambitious and challenging live art and performance to audiences in Birmingham. GIG GUIDE: JULY 2017




[LE1 5JN]

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


[B14 7RZ]

Foghorn Unscripted:  An hour of drama and comedy with a Dickens theme.  A pay-what-you-want show as part of the Brum Radio comedy all-dayer.


[NG1 7EH]

Action: Marvel at a fast-paced, hilarious show created from scratch in front of your eyes. Join the East Midlands’ leading comedy/theatre group for a night unlike any other.





[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin:  Free improvised comedy show in Birmingham, with entertainment from the in-house team Bunkum Factory.





[CV1 1JD]

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


[SK17 6BE]

Absolute Improv:  Edinburgh Fringe sell-out show since 2013 returns for more five-star improv comedy fun! Fast-paced, hilarious improv sketches based on your suggestions.


[B16 8AE]

Jumprov:  Second full length performance by Birmingham’s freshest improv group.


[WS13 6HR]

The Showstopper Kids Show:  The audience decides where the story is set, what happens next and who the characters are. A family focussed show from the Olivier Award winners.


[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin Improv:  Special show in Birmingham featuring performers from a workshop held earlier that day led by Carleen Macdermid.



[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.






[NG1 1PY]

Smash Night: Never-seen-before… Never-to-be-seen-again! Watch in amazement some of the finest improv teams around create scenes and stories from your suggestions.


[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: Beginnings and Endings

At the beginning of the year a small group of Year 6 children from Billesley Primary School joined us at our base in AE Harris to begin work on an online choose your own adventure story. We used the journey from their school to the Jewellery Quarter as inspiration for possible starting points, settings and characters for their stories. As I walked with them I realised that this was their last year in primary school and that they were one of the first groups of children we had worked with in our now five year long partnership with Billesley Primary.

I first met them when they were in Year Two and aged 6. Together we made a comic book version of Treasure Island and looking back at the pictures from that project you can see their personalities shining through. The following year they worked with us on a Weather Project documenting the daily conditions, writing poetry and creating costumes for a meteorological themed performance in the school hall. In Year Four we explored Ancient China with them. Last summer when they were in Year 5 we made Superfast Shakespeare, a quick fire rendering of five Shakespeare Plays performed outdoors in their playground and on the terrace of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford.

Now they are in Year 6 and a group of ten of these now 11 year olds have just finished creating The Amazing Adventures Of You. They wrote stories and learnt coding to create a hypertext adventure in which you, the reader can choose which path you want to choose through the story.

We wish these children and the rest of Year 6 at Billesley the very best for their future adventures and thank them for their work with us over the years.

Please read and enjoy the amazing adventure they have created for you HERE


Fierce Festival: Bab, we’re back! 2017 Fierce Programme Launch

Image: Last Yearz Interesting Negro/Jamila Johnson-Small photo by Katarzyna Perlak & Carlos Jimenez.

Tuesday 18 July, 6-8pm
Birmingham Hippodrome, PWC Room

Fasten your seat belts: Fierce is back to take Birmingham by storm! We’d love you to join us to hear about our exhilarating 2017 lineup of international performance art, theatre, dance, cabaret, gigs, talks and parties. Expect over 50 events including 8 UK premieres, 6 world premieres and artists from 12 countries.

Please RSVP to, by Wednesday 12th July as space is limited. Everybody is welcome and drinks will be served!

Fierce Festival takes place 16 – 22nd October 2017.

See you then! x