Theater Company Stan’s Café Honors WWI

Stan’s Café

A European theater company called Stan’s Café has staged an elaborate tribute to the fallen soldiers of the First World War. They have depicted the so-called “domino effect” that led to the Great War using actual dominoes to represent the shaky chain of allegiances which caused war to break out all over Europe. Stan’s Café is set to stage their show in front of an audience at the end of June.

The show is part of a series entitled “After a War,” which will run at London’s Battersea Arts Center. The goal of their show is to answer a question posed by philosopher Karl Popper regarding which nation truly influenced the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This shooting began the politically complex conflict, and Stan’s Café has decided to name their show “Finger Trigger Bullet Gun,” in reference to both Karl Popper’s question and the shooting itself. The Sarajevo shooting is represented in their marketing materials by an actual bullet, while the men who died in the pursuant war are represented by thousands upon thousands of dominoes.

The fighting at the Somme is the primary conflict being honored, with the names of men who died in the conflict carved into each domino piece. The play will have to be incredibly well-timed, as Stan’s Café has decided to set up fifteen thousand mock gravestones that have to fall in timing with the delivery of the performance. The show will take a great deal of care and precision to ensure that all of the dominoes fall when they are supposed to.

There is a bit of irony surrounding the obstacles which await the performers. While the dominoes are meant to represent the chaos of the war, they must nonetheless fall in proper order. In other words, Stan’s Café is attempting to create an image of chaos over which they have perfect control. They are also worried that the dominoes will become even more of a focal point than they are meant to be, drawing attention away from the performers, The Guardian reports.

Stan’s Café has to balance actor delivery with a unique staging device to create a highly symbolic portrayal of the events that led to the First World War and the deaths of thousands. They have staged similarly unique shows in the past, so they have some experience with interesting concepts of dramatic form. However, they are only just gaining experience with dominoes. While there are many concerns that could prevent the show from going exactly as planned, Stan’s Café has experimented with different staging techniques and believes they have landed on the best possible manner in which to present their incredibly novel idea.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE