How to watch theatre.

The Capital – Trailer from Stans Cafe on Vimeo.

Watching theatre is no great challenge, the seats are helpfully bolted to the floor facing the correct direction so why do I occasionally feel compelled to write a program note giving tips on ‘How to watch theatre’?

There is a famous psychology experiment in which subjects are asked to watch two teams throwing two basket balls between them, they are challenged to count the number of passes made between the teammates in white t-shirts and those in black. So intent are the subjects on this counting that they fail to spot someone dressed as a gorilla walking into frame, waving at the camera and walking out of frame.

Experience from the early days of Stan’s Cafe taught me that if someone comes to one of our shows looking too hard for a story with a beginning, middle and end, or a single simple ‘message’, they tend to miss the show waving at them from centre stage.

The Capital is designed to be easy to watch and impossible to exhaust. It should teach its audience how to watch as it unfolds. It should feel like gliding through the city looking from the window of a bus but also traveling through houses and flats and colleges and shops and nightclubs.

As we slide through life we witness fleeting episodes from thousands of stories, which swirl around us every day. Each day we play endless roles: I’m father, husband, brother, friend, boss, colleague, customer, student, neighbour, jogger, cyclist, pedestrian.

Capital built this city. The Capital is built by us. The city never stops. We slip through time even as we stand still. This is The Capital and its seats aren’t bolted down.

To discover what’s written in the programme notes come to The REP 24 – 27 October (the tickets cost but the programme is free).

Tickets can be bought here from The REP or there is a RIDICULOUSLY GOOD OFFER if you’d like to be part of Culture Feast. Culture Fest is a kind of tasting menu for contemporary art in Birmingham, for just £20 you can see the Friday performance of The Capital, a dance piece at DanceXchange, a concert by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Javaad Alipoor’s The Believers Are But Brothers at The Hippodrome/Patrick Centre. Do the maths, that’s £5 per show. It’s like being back in the early ’90s!

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