About Us

Stan’s Cafe is a group of artists from a variety of disciplines, but mostly theatre makers, working under the artistic direction of James Yarker. The company consists of an evolving team of long term collaborators and associated artists, the line up changes according to the project being worked upon.


Origin Story: Back in 1991 Graeme Rose and James Yarker, graduates of Lancaster University agreed to form a theatre company whilst eating at Stan’s Cafe, just off Brick Lane in London.


They wanted an unusual name, but one that wasn’t too aggressive, too posturing, a cheap joke, a bad pun or overly earnest. Station House Opera had always seemed a good name, mainly because they didn’t do opera. So there you go… Stan’s Cafe (pronounced Caff).


Birmingham: When Stan’s Cafe was formed the company could have located anywhere, but Graeme was from Birmingham and knew the city well. The place was cheap to live in and easy to tour from. There were no companies resembling the one they wanted Stan’s Cafe to be already in the city and they fancied being big fish in a big pond.


In the early 1990s Birmingham was in the middle of the enormous civic investment programme so it seemed like an energetic place to locate.
After working out of a shared house and later James’ bedsit Stan’s Cafe got its first office at MAC in 1997. In 2000 they moved to a first floor factory unit overlooking the railway just outside New Street Station. When that was demolished they moved to the Jewellery Quarter and in January 2009 they took over a vast corner of the A E Harris metal working factory. For a decade they ran this space as a venue, rehearsal space and storage facility for the local theatre community. After that space was demolished the company moved to its current space, Our Facility – an Edwardian school building in Selly Oak

Staff Team

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Dave Howard

Dave has a lifelong commitment to the application of the arts to the aim of social change, with education being the most fundamental component of the toolbox. He began his arts management career at The Roadmender in Northampton and quickly followed that with a period as Company Administrator and interim CEO for the touring theatre company of the East Midlands, New Perspectives. Dave is a musical practitioner and spent five years as Director of a Youth Music Action Zone leading teams of deluxe musicians in applying their practice to a wide range of community development objectives. He is a graduate of the Clore Leadership Short Course Programme, and has an MA with distinction in Developing The Arts In Applied Contexts. Away from Stan’s Cafe Dave continues to lead ukulele groups, teach music technology and lead on music production projects.

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Craig Stephens

Craig graduated from Warwick University and gained an M.A. at Lancaster University. He has performed with a number of companies including Insomniac Productions, Plane Performance, Talking Birds, The Playhouse. He has also written for amongst others; BBC Radio 4, Talking Birds, Hamfisted!, Ludlow Assembly Rooms and Lichfield Garrick Theatre.


He first worked with Stan’s Cafe devising Simple Maths in 1997 since when he has been at the heart of most of the company’s activities. Craig became Associate Director in 2006, a move that acknowledges his creative contribution to the company, his direction of numerous small-scale projects and his lead of the company on tour in James’s absence. Other commitments with Stan’s Cafe led to him not being in Finger Trigger Bullet Gun and the casting requirements meant he couldn’t be in Made Up, but he can be heard in this production playing a DJ on the show’s soundtrack, he also wrote words and lyrics to form this soundtrack.

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James Yarker (artistic director)

Gained a first class theatre degree at Lancaster University. He co-founded Stan’s Cafe in 1991 and has directed all the company’s significant productions since then. As a result of this work he has been invited to guest lecture at Universities across the country as well as to present papers at conferences and run many workshops at home and abroad. James was an attached writer at Birmingham Rep once but failed to reconcile himself to the notion of sitting at home writing a play – he is now detached.

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