Read and play an extract of our story

March 21, 2022 by

We are excited to share a short prototype extract of ‘A Rainbow for Amala’ – our interactive storybook developed as part of our Green Shoots project.

The experience is aimed at children aged 8-11 (Year 4,5 & 6 of Primary School) to read and play together with a grandparent or adult carer.

You can download the PDF of the book here.

You’ll need a smartphone with internet access and a QR scanner (most phones have these built into the camera these days) to play the experience.

As this is very much in development, we would love to hear your feedback on your experience of reading and playing ‘A Rainbow for Amala’. Please email info@theotherwayworks.co.uk with your responses, comments and questions.

A headshot of Sudha Bhuchar

The Green Shoots Interviews: Sudha Bhuchar

February 4, 2022 by

We caught up with three members of the creative team from Green Shoots – director Katie Day, writer Sudha Bhuchar, and John Sear, game designer & software developer – to ask them about their roles in the project, what they have learned while working on it, and its potential legacy.

 

SUDHA BHUCHAR: WRITER

Tell me a bit about your role within the Green Shoots creative team.

I was brought on by Katie [Day] and John [Sear]. They were looking for a writer to collaborate with on the Green Shoots project, so I had to apply and then was interviewed and was delighted to get the job. I knew it was going to be an incremental thing that they built, so I was very intrigued and thrilled to be asked to be part of it.

What made you interested in being part of the project?

I looked up the work [The Other Way Works] had done and I was very intrigued in that whole thing of experiential theatre, not theatre in a conventional way, and having an experience that will remain with you because you’ve felt it more deeply than just sat in the audience. I was intrigued with that, and the subject of climate change issues as well as working with kids – making work from being out and doing a residency with kids and getting their opinions. A lot of my work is from research, and interacting with people, verbatim, recordings, reflecting back stories from the field as it were, so I was interested in being able to apply that collaboratively to this project.

What do you think is new or interesting about this project?

Obviously young people and kids of that age are really interested in climate change, they see it as something that is deeply already affecting them – their whole futures are shaped by the unknown around the earth, as we found with the primary schools we went too. That’s one part of it. What children think and what they think their future is, is of great interest to me. I have kids but they’re older, but I have nieces and nephews of that age. Also the whole process of making it, it’s unlike anything I’ve done before, where you’re building it from prototypes, integrating, playing games, with a grandparent and a child experiencing it together, playing a game. From that they’re having an inter-generational conversation about climate change. I just find it all very organic and interesting.

In terms of the creative process do you think you’ve learnt anything from this that might change the way you work on future projects?

It is very iterative. I have worked in that way before but not exactly the same; mostly I’m used to delving into the unknown and just trusting a process. For instance, I’ve just done a project called Final Farewell at Tara Arts which was an audio walk; I’ve never done something like that before but when you have collaborators, everybody brings different things to the table. What I’ve found with this project is I can bring my practice to the table and learn from John and Katie and how they work. What I loved is that Katie and John and us saying ‘we don’t know’ – and we actually don’t know! We remind ourselves that we collectively don’t know, so then you’re building the story from fragments as you pick them up. Going into the schools has been incredible, and there’s so much material that comes from the mouths of children, watching them play games. I’m very much about taking anything that shines and trying to use it. At the end of the day there’s not going to be huge text in this project, so how do I bring the best of myself – the performative side of it. What’s been really lovely is in the prototype we’re doing right now there are conversations between the kids that could be in the theatre piece, but you have to scan a QR code and then you find it. It feels like you can integrate things and it comes out differently to any of us individually. I am a writer that goes into the field, but I also write alone as well, but I’m not the main artist in the room, there isn’t a main artist in the room which is lovely as well. If anything, it’s the voices of the kids, the characters we created, and the grandmother. It’s quite inspiring. But we still don’t know what it is yet.

Is there anything as part of the creative process that has been particularly memorable or moving or surprising?

It’s hard to pick. I just think the combination of the three of us, also Fateha who’s been doing the workshops, how brilliant she is at eliciting the most amazing conversations from the children. The kids have been memorable, and I can see that they’re directly feeding into the work. Katie and John have been great to work with, I’ve never worked with somebody who makes games or makes experiences in that way.

Is there anything you’d like to tell fellow creatives?

We were at SOAS University and a student said “at least if you’re searching you know you’re lost”. A lot of people don’t acknowledge that they’re lost. That quote came back to me because I have come into this project feeling lost. We jokingly say to Katie ‘come on you need to sack me because I don’t know what I’m doing’ and she’ll say ‘no you can’t go, because none of us know what we’re doing’. I love the idea that we’re searching together, and then you’ll find a clearing, or you’ll find something, and then to see it coming into focus. We started with the colouring in of certain numbers and now the picture is starting to emerge.

How does it feel to work on something with a legacy beyond a performance, or beyond a moment in time where a play is performed?

It’s really exciting! At the moment we’re doing the “micro bits”, but you can already see the people we’ve created, and then seeing them illustrated, it feels like a world is building which was totally inspired by real kids. I love to work like that; reflecting back to people with their stories transformed. And to be able to, on a basic level, have some live interactions during Covid! To be able to go into a school and see 100 kids in one day and hear their voices. It’s such a diverse school too and it’s great for the global majority to be the majority in Britain in that environment. It’s very moving to hear some of their own stories from those kids who have been climate migrants, and it’s heart-breaking to hear their hopes clouded by what their fears are, but there is so much hope.

What do you hope the legacy will be from this project?

I think it would be totally insane to say we’ll end climate change, but to be able to capture those conversations, to capture fear and make it into hope, to have something tangible that generations can play together and talk about together. I don’t even think a lot of those conversations are reaching that family level. To not feel like it’s too big that you can’t do something.

A headshot of John Sear

The Green Shoots Interviews: John Sear

by

We caught up with three members of the creative team from Green Shoots – director Katie Day, writer Sudha Bhuchar, and John Sear, game designer & software developer – to ask them about their roles in the project, what they have learned while working on it, and its potential legacy.

 

JOHN SEAR: GAME DESIGNER AND SOFTWARE DEVELOPER

Tell us about your role in the Green Shoots creative team

My job title normally is a Real-World Game Designer. I used to work in the games industry making Xbox and PlayStation games but for the last decade or so I’ve made games that take place in the real world, away from small screens like console, Xbox and PlayStation screens, often featuring stuff that you carry with you or stuff with technology in the background – some kind of combination between games, technology and theatre. Katie [Artistic Director of TOWW] and I have worked together on a bunch of projects and this is our new venture that has been running for about a year. I have two roles in the Green Shoots project, one is that of game designer and you’ll probably gather from this project all the roles are kind of intermingled so even though I’m the official ‘game designer’- I’m leading that and I have the expertise in that – but everyone chips in. Separately to that I have a software and technology role so I’m also building the software elements of the project and for this that’s for mini websites that participants go to and solve puzzles. So my role here includes building the websites, processing the audio and editing video to put on the websites.

What do you think is new or interesting about this project?

Katie and I started doing something similar to this when we first met about seven or eight years ago which was the idea of a game in a box. Originally the idea was that you were given this boxed game when you went into a hotel; the concept was that you were a secret spy and a package arrived for you and then you played the game in your hotel room. This takes elements of that project, primarily that there’s a physical thing that you take home and play; that was very novel when we started off with this idea eight years ago. It’s become very popular in the past couple of years mainly because of the escape game craze and they’ve now branched out into products you can play from home. For example, you can sign up to a monthly subscription or you can buy a box off Amazon that arrives in the post. That craze has taken off even more in lockdown because people couldn’t get out of their houses! Companies that used to have physical escape rooms in city centres realised that no one would be coming to their rooms for the next 18 months so a lot of them made a product you can either play online or one that you can play physically from a box or a book. The idea of an escape game in a book, which is how I’d describe this project, is kind of novel in terms of the content on climate change, but as a concept it has taken off recently. However, using that concept to address education feels new, as most of the existing games tend to be entertainment products that you would pay for to play with your friends and family. Generally people build their escape games to be played with their young families, or as groups of kids ages 10+ or they build adult experiences, so the fact we’re aiming at a grandparent and a grandchild is quite unique. The motivations behind that are to try and get climate change addressed more in the family unit; the people who can make the most difference in this issue are the parent-aged people in the family, but they need a bit of ‘pester power’ from their kids and their grandparents at the same time. It’s the kids that will be most affected by the climate crisis.
Books coming to life is also our thing, using QR codes or augmented reality. There’s a couple of books that are in production at the moment, in R&D phases, that will be augmented reality books whereby you pick up your phone and put it over the book and it starts animating or something. I would say that’s still quite novel and something we hope to do.

What’s different about this than the way you might work on a more traditional project?

I’ve never made a book before, so that’s a big thing, that’s true for Katie as well, we’ve both come from making theatrical games with technology, so we’re using all of our knowledge from that to make a book. I do build experiences in museums as well – for example when you go around with a mobile phone and scan stuff or things might come to life as you walk around, so there’s elements of that in this. The subject matter is very new for me… I would say I’m reasonably climate change aware, for example I don’t have a car. But the subject matter in terms of the real-world consequences and how it’s affecting people in South Asia is new to me. Another thing that’s different is working with the schools. I’ve done some of that in the past, but we’ve tried to involve schools at a much earlier stage this time, as co-authors. They have done illustrations and bits of writing, as well as allowing us to learn how they play. Everything I build gets play tested quite a lot, but this was much more about involving the kids early in the design phase, and have them play it and change it or make suggestions. We sorted through 60 ideas to see what we want to use. Some of those have made it into the writing which is good but going back to them again with bits of script and seeing the children acting them out was fun.

What do you hope the legacy of the project will be?

To have something that’s passed on. That’s not a normal thing in games as financially it makes no sense to make a game that someone plays and passes on. There have been some indie and arthouse games in this world whereby people have made a game you can play on a USB stick only – so you play the game, it changes the state of the world, and the last action is to pass the USB stick onto someone else. Rather like things were in the old days if you had a video tape of a film you would watch it and pass it on to your friends. I think that’s why this project is interesting, my inspiration for a lot of this stuff is game books which were big when I was growing up. There’s a bunch of Usborne and Famous Five ones, these vanished as digital media and computer games took over, so I think going back to those things is quite interesting. I’m really keen on the idea that the book does some kind of good – it gets families to address some of these climate change issues where they can in their home, or become more aware of it, or have discussions about it, but then the idea is that the book is passed on. We can do that on a project like this because financing is not the main goal, hopefully we get paid for the work that we do, but it would be nice if the legacy is that we can get a bunch of these books into school, perhaps finding some funding for that. But the idea is you complete it and pass it on, so it doesn’t just sit on a shelf – it carries on living.

A picture of Katie Day

The Green Shoots Interviews: Katie Day

by

We caught up with three members of the creative team from Green Shoots – director Katie Day, writer Sudha Bhuchar, and John Sear, game designer & software developer – to ask them about their roles in the project, what they have learned while working on it, and its potential legacy.

 

KATIE DAY: DIRECTOR

Tell us a bit about your role within the Green Shoots creative team

I am the artistic director of The Other Way Works so as well as directing actors as part of Green Shoots I’m the creative lead on this project and all the other projects we produce. This means I came up with the original concept and then developed it with the help of some core collaborators. When we’re in the thick of a project I’m often standing back out of the way; sometimes I feel like I’m the hub in a wheel with all my collaborators as the spokes. I’m in the middle trying to interpret what I’m getting from one person and then feeding that back to the other people, for example I’m taking comments from the writer and feeding them to the illustrator and processing the information so that everyone (hopefully!) knows what we are trying to achieve.

How does it feel to have your original concept taken on by other people?

That’s what I absolutely love! I love coming up with ideas but in terms of making them real I can’t do that on my own. Since my background is in theatre, I would call myself the director, and I do direct actors as part of this project, but that’s a very small part of it. I love seeing people run with my ideas and seeing them come up with far better ones than I could have done, making them richer and more interesting, and then making them a reality.

What do you think is new or interesting about this project?

For the creative team this is quite new, and maybe a little crazy, as we have found ourselves making a children’s book and none of us have written children’s books before! There may be products out there that are similar but we’re using the book form and opening it up into all sorts of interactive elements including puzzles inspired by escape rooms, aspects of radio drama, and many other storytelling techniques. This means the book acts as a gateway for all this amazing online content, and I think that’s quite different. One of the things we’ve done is reflect on a previous project John Sear and I made for adults called A Moment of Madness which was about bringing  together real-world gaming and escape room gaming with immersive and site-specific theatre. In that project there was interaction with lots of documentation and a telephone system so for Green Shoots we tried to think about how we could combine information that you read, and interactive media, in a format suitable for children. Partly what’s new about this is the form and I’m really interested in how it will eventually manifest.

Can you tell us about a memorable or moving moment during the process?

When we set out to make this project it was about raising awareness about the climate crisis and specifically among primary school aged children and other members of their families. We were looking to hear from people who weren’t the ‘usual suspects’ in the environmental movement as historically it’s been dominated by the white middle classes; we found that some people in the UK can often feel a bit insulated from current impacts of climate change but obviously there are people in other parts of the world who have been experiencing climate impacts for 20 or 30 years. On that basis we decided to talk to people who have closer familial links with places where these climate impacts were more strongly felt. We visited a school in Small Heath in inner-city Birmingham to do some workshops and to talk to the kids to get to know what they knew about climate change, what their experiences were, and what they cared about in relation to the subject. We went in with quite open questions and found that a lot of the kids had families in Bangladesh, and they spoke of aunts and uncles who’d had to move house due to flooding. One of the children told us that they themselves had recently moved here to the UK with their family as a direct result of the climate crisis. They had experienced a storm in their country of origin and their family had decided to move to the UK for the chance of a safer future. That was a bit of a thunderbolt moment for us and as we sat there and listened, we realised that these children were exactly the people we should be hearing from, this was a lived experience from someone who lives round the corner from us.

How do you go about bringing all these stories and creative elements together?

It’s a total puzzle and at the beginning you just don’t know how it will work! The way that we’re trying to do this is not have the big picture answered at the start and that’s maybe quite an odd way of doing it for some people. We did some brainstorming days where we mapped out several different narrative scenarios, so we do have a rough, very broad-brush picture of the story we’ve decided to tell. Then we picked a moment in the middle of the story and started writing that scene, adding in interactive elements such as games and other pieces of content as we went. Then we visited the school again to test it with the kids and now we’re writing a bit more. The way we’re doing it is quite iterative, so we just do a little thing, try it, see if it’s good, see what the kids like, what they engage with and so on and then do a bit more.

What have you learnt that will change the way you work in a creative process in the future?

For me it’s raised a lot of questions around working with people who aren’t from the same white background as me and instead working with creatives who are closer to the participants that we’re working with in terms of their experiences. Because we’re working with a school where the children are predominantly from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds, we wanted to tell their story in an authentic way, so it was important to have their communities represented in our core creative team. Bringing Sudha Bhuchar on board as our writer and working with Fats Begum as our facilitator has been crucial for this. It’s been a lot to negotiate and a lot of testing out with the creatives about how they want to tell the story. What’s been interesting for me has been having those people in the heart of the creative team means that it’s impossible to brush their perspectives aside and that’s great as it can be “too easy to make things easy” when you’re trying to solve lots of problems. It’s opened a whole world to us, a whole world of culture and knowledge and the complexity of all the differences between the communities that we encountered within the school. If I was working with a specific core group or audience, I would definitely work with core creatives who had experiences more similar to that group because it allows the participants’ voice to continue through into the actual authoring of the work in a way that I think could easily be lost by creatives who didn’t have that same experience.

Green Shoots Creative Team

January 27, 2022 by

Prototype Produced in January 2022 by

The Other Way Works

Created by

Katie Day – Director
John Sear – Game Designer & Software Developer
Sudha Bhuchar – Writer

Jim Rogers – Illustrator
Fateha Begum – Facilitator (School & Community)
Alex Kapila – Facilitator (Grandparents)
Tim Wright – Artist Mentor
Peter Wynne-Willson – Artist Mentor
Tricia Coleman – Producer

Bharti Patel – Voice of Nani Fatima
Zarah Hoq – Voice of Nafeesa
Daiyan Ahmed – Voice of Karim

Inspired by and created in collaboration with children from Regents Park Community Primary School, Small Heath, Birmingham.

Supported by

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, with further support from Birmingham Hippodrome, Black Country Touring, BOM, CAP Centre Smethwick, Regents Park Community Primary School, Possible, and ecobirmingham.

Experience our interactive spy thriller from home in May-June 2021

May 17, 2021 by

‘A Moment of Madness’ is back! And this time you can experience it from your sofa…

As the press gather for a big announcement on the new environmental bill, a politician’s future hangs in the balance.

Thrust into the heart of a spy thriller, you’ll navigate the political scandal of the decade. Watching over a multi-storey car park, you must use every mode of surveillance to hunt down facts and intercept evidence. As agents of the state you will expose a complex network of corruption that threatens to destroy the UK’s path to environmental progress.

A Moment of Madness fuses compelling drama with real-time gameplay to create a visceral new live experience.

In a brand new format for 2021, audiences will take part online in teams of 2-4, taking active roles as MI5 agents from the comfort of their own homes.

Tickets are now on sale, and the show opens next week as part of the fantastic Norfolk & Norwich Festival.
And then another chance to catch it in a couple of weeks time when we’ll be presenting the show in association with Oxford’s own Zoom Theatre Pioneers Creation Theatre.
(You can play from anywhere in the UK remember – its online!)

Book: Tuesday 25th May – Thursday 27th May 2021: 2pm, 4pm, 7pm & 9pm

Book: Wednesday 9th June – Saturday 12th June 2021: 2pm, 4pm, 7pm & 9pm

A Norfolk & Norwich Festival commission. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Supported by Unity Theatre Trust & Birmingham Open Media. Originally co-produced with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Flatpack Festival.

Photo:Electric Egg

The Other Way Works is #HereForCulture

April 2, 2021 by

We would like to recognise the support of £21,574 we have received from Arts Council England and DCMS’ Culture Recovery Fund (Round 2), covering the period April-June 2021. This funding allows us to continue operating at this very difficult time for theatre and the arts, by paying our small freelance artist and producing team to develop new projects that address some of the crucial issues of our current times: the climate emergency, and political corruption.
#HereForCulture

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