Monthly Archives: August 2017

Stan’s Cafe Theatre Company: Moving home

On Tuesday the Birmingham Post made fully public the news that our landlords A E Harris & Co. Ltd. have sold their site for redevelopment, they will be moving to new premise to continue their business and we will have to do the same.

This development is no surprise to us. We took on our lease knowing the site was for sale and we have always been kept up to date as offers have come in and negotiations progressed.

Being based @ A E Harris has transformed how we have been able to work, allowed us to increase our ambitions and enabled us to help other people realise their ambitions. It will be a significant wrench to move on as we will leave many happy memories behind.

Plans for our future base have been developing in recent months and we are entertaining a range of possibilities. We consider this forced change a great opportunity to refresh our approach to how we make art, how were relate to our home city and how we support others.

The end of our current arrangement is still a little way off, planning permission needs to be submitted and granted for the new development and after that A E Harris need to relocate so we expect @ A E Harris to continue as it is for at least 12 months which would be an neat point to leave as it would be ten years on from when we first arrived at the factory in order to perform Of All The People In All The World.

Fierce Festival: Applications open for PILOT Night at Fierce 2017

As part of Fierce Festival 2017 at AE Harris, Monday 16th October 2017

On Monday 16th October PILOT Nights will manifest once again to kick off Fierce Festival 2017!  This is a chance for artists to present up to 20 minutes of new, work-in-progress material, in front of a real live audience and industry peers – and be a part of Fierce!

At Fierce, we’re looking for those makers at the experimental edges of things. Perhaps its queer cabaret, performance art actions, devised contemporary theatre, solo performance or anything else a bit “arty”, “weird” or “Fierce” – we’ll know it when we see it!

Artists will receive a small fee, professional photo and video documentation of their work, and feedback from the audience.  It will also be a great opportunity to create links within the industry and meet future potential arts partners.

Full details on how to apply can be found on the Pilot Nights website.

Deadline for submissions: Thursday 7th September GIG GUIDE: SEPTEMBER 2017


Kneerjerks tshirts cropped



[LE1 5JN]

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


[LE1 5JN]

Freewheelers:  Groups, pairs & solo performers try out new material with a supportive audience.


[CV1 1JD]

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


[NG1 6FG]

Gorilla Burger:  Theatre karaoke where you can be the star.  Or you can just sit back and enjoy an evening of unplanned, uncensored improv comedy.


[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin Improv:  See the unscripted stories from deep inside the mind of a standup comedian James Cook come to life.  



[LE3 0GA]

The Same Faces:  “Uncle Armando” show where the group perform scenes inspired by comedian Naz Osmanoglu.




[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.


[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin Improv:  See the unscripted stories from deep inside the mind of a standup comedian Radu Isac come to life.  




[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin Improv:  See the unscripted stories from deep inside the mind of a standup comedian Bobby Murdock come to life.  



[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 AUDIENCE REVIEWS: MURDERED BY MURDER

Lovehard Murder

This is an expanded version of a previous blogpost to allow for the great reviews LoveHard have been getting on tour.

Broadway Baby

  • the best of both the theatre and comedy worlds
  • improvised jokes mid-show
  • unparalleled in comedy writing and delivery

North West End

  • There are hilarious twists and turns…
  • …and even a bit of improvisation which goes down a treat
  • A duo that are going places

Birmingham What’s On

  • comic geniuses
  • spectacularly written whodunnit-style show
  • the laughs from the audience didn’t stop

Love Midlands Theatre

  • an absolute masterclass in characterisation
  • some quite hilarious ad lib-ing and improvisation
  • I’m sure Dickens himself would have been full of praise for this production

Red And Gold Web

  • a wonderful evening of belly laughs
  • it is phenomenal
  • very clever, very funny and unique comedy acting, the likes of which you will not see anywhere else


  • simply hilarious
  • brilliantly entertaining
  • tear-jerkingly funny
  • so entertained for the full hour my ribs hurt
  • can’t remember the last time I laughed that much
  • absolutely fabulous
  • the best show I’ve seen so far at EdFringe
  • laughed my socks off
  • the most original murder mystery you have ever seen
  • 10/10 would recommend
  • fantastic show
  • fabulously funny


Stan’s Cafe Theatre Company: New brush

Real live post with a hand written address is always exciting and when the envelope is colourful, cushioned and from Sri Lanka it’s arrival is a major event. I couldn’t imagine what could be inside or why it may be addressed to me. Then, as the thin bristled hand brush dropped out I recalled a conversation I’d had a few weeks ago with in Mulheim and it all made sense.

Of All The People In All The World was in Mulheim and I’d just spoken at the official opening when I woman came up to me and started asking me about the brushes we used. It was an unusual start to a conversation because although we choose the brushes careful we don’t consider them a particularly noteworthy element of a show that provokes so much debate in other directions. Nevertheless the woman was interested in the brushes so we talked brushes. It emerged that she had recently been bequeathed a collection of brushes on the death of friend. She evidently wasn’t keen on continuing the collection but at the same time sentiment prevented her disposing of the collection unthinkingly – she wondered if we could make use of one of the brushes which was similar in design to those we already used. I replied that that we would be honoured to adopt this brush, that it would be put to good use and the story of its journey to us would be added to richness of all subsequent shows.

So now you’ve heard it, the story of the new brush.

Fierce Festival: Fierce at Birmingham Weekender!

Fierce is delighted to be presenting two events as part of Birmingham’s largest arts festival, the Birmingham Weekender. The Birmingham Weekender takes place this September 22-24th ad features hundreds of events across the city centre.

Firstly, Tram-a-lama-ding-dong! Cabaret on the Metro sees a host of cabaret stars jump aboard Birmingham’s newest mode of transport. Armed with her Casio keyboard, be seduced by the catchy pop hooks of songstress Lorraine Bowen of The Crumble Song and Britain’s Got Talent fame; marvel at the entrancing synchronised dance routines of the strange but true quintet Figs in Wigs and laugh along with Birmingham’s First Lady Mrs Barbara Nice as she rolls out gags faster than the speed of tram. All you need to partake is a ticket to ride! Supported by Midland Metro with pop up performances on-board the trams, 3-9pm between New Street and the Jewellery Quarter stops.

Secondly, end your day with a party at Club Fierce: Deadpan Disco. Nothing to laugh at here, It’s the most straight faced party in town! Expect warped cabaret from deadpan dance troupe Figs in Wigs; armed with her Casio keyboard Britain’s Got Talent star Lorraine Bowen is deadly serious; lifeless cookery demos from premiere bio-queen Victoria Sin and live music from multimedia performance artist and musician Rebekah Ubuntu – all this and more to be announced, plus Club Fierce DJs. Advance booking recommended. Hosted by Yshee Black.

Tickets for Club Fierce: Deadpan Disco can be purchased here. AUDIENCE REVIEWS: IMPROVABUNGA

Improvabunga EdFringe

Here’s what people have been saying about the Birmingham-based group’s outing to the Edinburgh Fringe.

EdFringe Review

  • Buckets-full of energy
  • Some brilliant moments of comedy
  • Highly entertaining


  • Well paced hour of comedy
  • Keyboardist provided flawless accompaniment
  • Easy to recommend


  • Fantastic
  • A must see
  • Astounded by your ability
  • Unbelievably funny
  • One of the funniest shows on the Fringe BIRMINGHAM IMPROV FESTIVAL 2017 – LINEUP ANNOUNCED

BIF logo green


The full list of acts performing at this year’s Birmingham Improv Festival has been announced.  The schedule includes sketch shows, drama and musicals and more performances by local acts than ever before.

Highlights include:

  • Showstopper, a musical kids show by the Olivier Award winners
  • Murder She Didn’t Write, an Agatha Christie style murder mystery
  • Impromptu Shakespeare, new comedy plays in the style of the Bard
  • Notflix, an all-female musical show inspired by a movie title
  • Happily Never After, the Tim-Burton-inspired fairytale horror show
  • Jumprov, the UK’s first black & minority ethnic improv group
  • Ten Thousand Million Love Stories, a duo who explore all aspects of love
  • MC Hammersmith, improvised hip hop comedy

The festival is on Monday 23 – Sunday 29 October and will be held at The Blue Orange Theatre, Great Hampton Street.  Tickets start at £5 and are available from



Little Earthquake: The Aggregation Of Marginal Gains (or The 1% Pledge)

Throughout The East Meets West Symposium 2017, Little Earthquake invited delegates to make a small personal pledge to do something that would improve the way we all work together and, ultimately, increase the quality of what we are doing for audiences in the region.

They were asked to improve something by just 1%. Why only 1%? Find out below.

If you’re a Theatre Maker, chances are you’ve been to your fair share of theatre conferences and Open Space events. We leave feeling excited and inspired by what has been discussed, and determined to make changes for the better. But, after a few days, that determination gets put on the back burner. And who can blame us? That funding application isn’t going to write itself. Those tour bookings aren’t going to magically appear on our schedule. It feels like too much of a commitment to start changing the world today. Maybe next year?

At our recent East Meets West Symposium we really wanted to avoid this scenario, and so we proposed a plan to help start turning talk into action. And the best thing about this plan was that nobody needed to do very much at all…

Perhaps surprisingly for a theatre conference, the idea we pitched is borrowed from the world of sport.

In 2010, Sir David Brailsford was appointed as the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky. He had the unenviable task of improving the floundering fortunes of professional British cycling. He predicted that if the team changed their overall training philosophy, a British cyclist could win the Tour de France within five years. So successful was his plan, Sir Bradley Wiggins won it in just under three years.

Brailsford called his philosophy “the aggregation of marginal gains”, and it’s much easier to implement than its intimidating name suggests. All Team Sky did was look for things they could improve by just 1%. They started in the obvious places: the riders’ nutrition and the ergonomics of the saddle. But like a man possessed, Brailsford started to look beyond these obvious things to areas that could have a subtler or less direct impact: finding the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels; testing for the most effective type of massage gel; teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection.

Over a short time, these tiny changes which seemed insignificant in themselves started to build and resulted in an overall improvement far greater than the sum of its parts: the aggregation of marginal gains.

I first stumbled across this idea over on James Clear’s blog, which you should definitely read to get the full scoop on this concept. I particularly like James’ thoughts on how the aggregation of marginal changes can work in reverse.

By the end of The East Meets West Symposium 2017, we asked all of the delegates to make personal 1% pledges about what they were going to do help improve the way we all work together and, ultimately, to help put audiences in the region on top. It didn’t need to be anything huge or monumental. They just needed to improve something by 1%. With 110 delegates in attendance, we should, in theory, see a 110% improvement over time if everyone carries out their pledge.

We’ve published all of the pledges online which you can access here. There’s nothing like a bit of accountability to keep things on track! We’ve also asked some of the delegates to keep a record of how their pledges go and we’ll report back later in the year.

If you work within the Midlands theatre sector and would like to make your own 1% Pledge, you can do so over on the East Meets West section of this website. After you make your pledge we’ll be sure to add it to the list.

The post The Aggregation Of Marginal Gains (or The 1% Pledge) appeared first on Little Earthquake.