Voodoo City

Studio Theatre  

Voodoo City was inspired by two black cider bottles found lying in a road aligned in such a way as to suggest they were not litter but a hex.

Working through familiar strategies of reading general Birmingham madness as evidence of shamanistic practice, we came to a show which is about, amongst other things, trying to change the world through private acts of magic.

The show starts with a long poem written as a spell. It then crashes into an unchoreographed dance.

From there to: an act of possession, image making, domestic magic, slapstick, more dancing and the building of a model city.

Throughout theatre is envoked as magic and revealed astrickery. No attempt is made to blend sections together, sequences are butted up against each other as different approaches to the same set of ideas.

The setting is possibly a roof top and images of falling proliferate. The piece is haunted by a newspaper article about a young mother who jumped from a tower block holding her baby to her chest. The performance is watched over by an old style crooner on a TV monitor who, before he eventually dies, rallies for a final plaintive song.

Approaching the making of Voodoo City it felt like time to be loved or hated. This show was intended to mark a new, bolder Stan’s Cafe. Though intensely difficult and unpleasant to make it achieved it’s aim and feels like our final word on shows structured around sections directly traceable to rehearsal room improvisations.

This show marked the start of along absence for founder member Graeme Rose who has subsequently made a triumphal return in Lurid and Insane. With both his singing and composing careers taking off, it was also the last piece for which Richard Chew composed the soundtrack. Comissioned by MAC New Works Trust, Voodoo City opened the venue’s Moving Parts season before touring nationally.

Original Programme

We’re making charms and beating beat up scratch kick van in this distraught destruction place.

We’re playing this game of games, telling tales of telling and telling tales to tell the truth, to out the truth with no sign of shame.

We’re playing and crossing six lanes of traffic with our eyes closed.

devised and performed by:
Sarah Dawson
Amanda Hadingue
Ray Newe
Graeme Rose

direction and text: James Yarker
music: Richard Chew with Jon Ward
lighting and operation: Paul Arvidson
set: Stan’s Cafe
publicity design: Simon Ford
photography: Mark Taylor

production photographs: Anupam Singh
Voodoo City was supported financially by:
West Midlands Arts, Birmingham City Council
MAC and MAC New Works Trust.

Tour Dates

  • 6th May 1995:
    Portsmouth Arts Centre, Hampshire

  • 3rd May 1995:
    Weymouth College, Dorset

  • 2nd May 1995:
    Dartington Arts, Dartington College

  • 30th April 1995:
    Malvern Festival, Malvern College Theatre

  • 29th April 1995:
    Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

  • 25th April 1995:
    Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster

  • 8th April 1995:
    Prema Arts Centre, Uley

  • 14th March – 2nd April 1995:
    Studio 1, BAC, London

  • 24th February 1995:
    Rotherham Arts Centre, Yorkshire

  • 22nd February 1995:
    Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton

  • 15th – 17th February 1995:
    Opening Moving Parts Season, MAC, Birmingham