Hello I’m James (not to be confused with the other James at Stan’s Cafe), and I’m Stan’s Cafe’s composer-in-residence. This residency with Stan’s Cafe isn’t a normal residency, and Stan’s Cafe isn’t your usual theatre company and I’m possibly not your usual composer either!
I share Stan’s Cafe’s passion for ideas, and although I’m a composer, my work straddles different disciplines of performance, theatre and art.
I’m here until September 2024 working on PhD project titled Composition as Workplace Intervention. I started this PhD project last September, but have only really been in residence since June (for reasons I will soon explain).
The idea is by having me in residence, I will make music (and other media) about Stan’s Cafe, as opposed to what a traditional composer residency would look like in a theatre company, where a composer would devise music with a group for a production.
Academically this area of music making has already been covered somewhat, plus Stan’s Cafe already has a plethora of composers that they love to work with already.
This blog is to showcase some of the early work I have made since the start of 2022.
Stan’s Cafe not Café
First off, Stan’s Cafe is frequently mispronounced amongst those outside of the company. So I wrote a little anthem of sorts to help everyone know the errors of their ways. The words are relatively meaningless and more about using the rhyme schemes of Cafe and cafè
Composer Near Residence
Around this time I was also facing some bureaucratic university issues (mostly around Covid) that would not let me actually be in residence with Stan’s Cafe. Rather than twiddle my thumbs and not do any work relating to my residency, I set up a tent in a park adjacent to where Stan’s Cafe are based and made a sign proclaiming myself as a composer-near-residence. I then sent these photos to Stan’s Cafe, offering my nearby services as a composer.
Eventually, in June, I was granted access to take residence in Our Facility (Stan’s Cafe’s rehearsal space / HQ), and was kindly offered a lovely office to work in. For the first week or so I made a video diary of my activities here, mostly of me getting orientated and used to the space and customising it to my needs.
Theses videos were a starting place for me, to get going and work out what the space was and what working there was going to be like. They also offer some insight to how I settled in and what Stan’s Cafe’s Our Facility looks like.
Of All The Woodlice In Stan’s Cafe
One of Stan’s Cafe’s most famous works is their performance installation Of All The People In All The World. Where human population statistics are represented in piles of rice, to make large population numbers more comprehensible.
In Stan’s Cafe’s building, there are many dead woodlice. In effort to clean them up a little and also to repurpose them for artistic purposes, much like what Stan’s Cafe have done with rice, I made my own little exhibition installation in a cupboard next to my office. Detailing the statistics of people involved Precious Emily, the show that was the main focus on Stan’s Cafe’s work over summer.
The ‘exhibition’ was installed for about two months, until its place in the cupboard had to make way to store some cleaning materials. Rather apt perhaps.
Lastly, Stan’s Cafe’s printer that had been going strong for about eight years went into a steep decline before dying.
I recorded some sounds of the printer doing its very best to try and work, and made some elegy music with it. I also placed some wildflowers, and a makeshift headstone and a little sheet for members of the company to write their goodbyes to an old reliable piece of kit. I wanted to dig a hole for it in the park and give it a dignified burial but instead it is going to the recycling centre, maybe it is Buddhist .