New season of online work from Stan’s Cafe

Published: 12 June 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

Craig Stephens in The Anatomy of Melancholy Credit: Graeme Braidwood
Rochi Rampal in The Anatomy of Melancholy Credit: Graeme Braidwood

Birmingham-based Stan’s Cafe has revealed a new season of work which will be available online including a new play and an updated version of a work which was originally staged in 2013.

The new play is For Quality Purposes, directed by artistic director James Yarker and devised by the company. It features call handlers working from home who field queries in areas they are rarely trained for or qualified to deal with.

Stan’s Cafe is also recording a new version of Robert Burton's “400-year-old masterpiece” The Anatomy of Melancholy which has been re-conceived as a series of 35 short, single-shot films. All the series will be available to watch from 1 July online, with episodes released daily via the company’s social media channels.

Burton's 1,500-page tome attempts to identify the causes, symptoms and cures for all kinds of “melancholy”, a term once used to cover a range of conditions including depression.

Actors Gerard Bell, Rochi Rampal, Graeme Rose and Craig Stephens filmed in their bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms. They were directed remotely by Yarker who said, “at Stan's Cafe we’ve always enjoyed experimenting with form and so lockdown has fired us up to create original performances from the intimacy of our own homes that we can share with audiences in their homes.

“Tackling Robert Burton's masterpiece back in 2013 was a fantastic revelation and we'd already started wondering how we could share it with more people online before lockdown began.

“As the book's themes resonate so profoundly at the moment, we moved our plans forward as fast as we could. Seeing and hearing Burton's amazing 400-year-old text spoken by the actors in the intimacy of their self-isolation has made the piece feel even more remarkable, speaking across the centuries about how we may look after ourselves and each other.”

All Stan's Cafe digital performances will be free to access, with a suggestion that audiences make a donation to one of three charitable funds: the Equity Charitable Trust which supports performers experiencing hardship, the Theatrical Guild which supports front-of-house and backstage workers or the Ladywood Food Bank in Birmingham.