Black Tonic 2015 Birmingham Tickets on sale at Birmingham REP

August 6, 2015 by

Booking is open for Black Tonic 2015 in Birmingham.

In Birmingham Black Tonic is presented in partnership with Birmingham REP, and performed at Radisson Blu Hotel, our Official Birmingham Hotel Partner.

Wed 16 – Sun 20 Sep
6.30pm | 7.45pm | 9pm
Tickets: £45 (one ticket admits two people)

NB: Tickets for Black Tonic are very limited, with only 2 tickets per time slot.

Book now via Birmingham REP
Online or call the Box Office on 0121 236 4455

Radisson Blu is Black Tonic’s Official Birmingham Hotel Partner


We are delighted to announce that the stylish Radisson Blu Birmingham will be our Official Hotel Partner and performance venue for Black Tonic’s Birmingham performances.

Check them out on Twitter & Facebook


The Radisson Blu Hotel, Birmingham soars above the cityscape in an impressive 39-storey structure that’s located near the business district, convention centre and shopping complexes. Designed by Matteo Thun, the 211 superb rooms and suites showcase exceptional accents and furnishings. Delicious dining options include Filini, an award-winning Italian restaurant, and guests can order their drink of choice at one of two on-site bars.

Our wonderful Kickstarter Supporters

August 4, 2015 by

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who backed our Black Tonic 2015 Kickstarter Campaign.
Thanks for helping to make Black Tonic 2015 a reality.

So, in alphabetical order by first name, our thanks to ….

Alexander Kelly
Aly Fielding
Amy Dawson
Ana Stefancic
Backer Name
Bianca Winter
Carol Attfield
Catherine Allen
Catherine Pitt
Chris Unitt
Claire Porteous
Clare Reddington
David and Janet Walden
Debra Skene
Delia Garratt
Derek Nisbet
Fiona Handscomb
Flo Swann
Florence Raynaud
Gavin Inglis
Helga Henry of Creative Shift
Ian and Helen Burn
Jacky Tivers
Jane Packman
Janet Vaughan
Jason J Crouch
Jenny M
Jess Pearson
Jill Dowse
Jo Gleave
Joel Love
John McGrath
John Sear
Johnathan Stephen
Jonathan Williams
Jorge Lizalde
Josephine Arendt
Julia Boyle
Julian Horne
Karen Miller
Katherine Maxwell-Rose
Katie Keeler
Kaye Winwood
Lachlan Smith
Lara Ratnaraja
Laura Gimson
Laura Grady
Lisa Meyer
Liz Porteous
Lou Platt
Ludic Rooms
Luke Neve
Mark & Kim
Mark Ralph Tattum
Matt Ball
Matt Mark Hill
Matt Patterson
Michael Day & Jean Scott
Michelle M Rafferty
Mick Diver
Mikal Saltveit
Nardia Lloyd-Ashton
Paul Burns
Paul Gilligan
Paul Maxwell-Rose
Peta Murphy
Pippa Frith
Rachael Griffin
Rich Hurley & Billy Reading
Ruth Paterson
Sarah Ellis
Sarah-Jane Watkinson
Stephen Wilson
Steve Harding
Steve Johnstone
Steve Lawson
Tamara von Werthern
Tamsin Mosse
The Shells 2015
Tom Levitt
Tomas Wright
Tony Kennick
William Porteous

Arts Marketing Graduate Internship

August 21, 2014 by

Arts Marketing Graduate Internship

6 Months – Paid

Women & Theatre and The Other Way Works are recruiting an Arts Marketing Intern.

This paid Internship offers a creative graduate hands-on arts marketing experience working on a variety of projects for two Birmingham-based theatre companies.

Women & Theatre deliver high quality participatory projects and produce new theatre of contemporary relevance that reflects the lives and experiences of ordinary people, giving voices to those who are not usually heard.

The Other Way Works create playful theatre that immerses our audiences in the story.
We are part of a new wave of theatre makers re-inventing the way people engage with culture. We do this by creating intimate environments that offer our audiences agency, which can provoke them to change the way they live their lives.

Working as a valued member of our small staff teams, the successful Intern will have plenty of opportunity to use their creative design and marketing talents to help raise the organisations’ profiles, and increase levels of marketing activity. Duties will include: developing print and digital marketing materials; implementing marketing campaigns for creative and fundraising projects; updating websites and social media feeds.

Key Information
6 month Internship starting in September 2014
30 hours a week, Tuesday-Friday (2 days a week with each organisation)
£ Minimum Wage
Predominantly office based in Moseley, Birmingham (both organisations based at this office)

Key Dates
Deadline for Applications: 12pm Tuesday 9th September 2014
Interviews: Tuesday 16th September 2014
Start date: Tuesday 30th September 2014

To apply for this position contact Women & Theatre on
Alternatively, please contact your work coach at your jobcentre and quote LMS reference: ERG 30125.

This paid internship is supported by the Creative Employment Programme.

There are certain criteria you must meet in order to be eligible to apply for a Creative Employment Programme funded internship. At the time of applying you must be aged 18 to 24 years old and you must be registered as unemployed with Jobcentre Plus. These eligibility criteria have been approved by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Women & Theatre and The Other Way Works are equal opportunities employers, who are actively seeking to employ people currently under-represented in the creative and cultural sector. This includes young people, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.

CEP_logo  lottery_png_black1


August 14, 2014 by

To ascertain the feasibility of building a prototype of a software engine that automatically creates a video life story from an individual’s social media content.
Protagonist is a practical attempt to make sense of our vast stashes of personal data in a human, emotional, narrative way. Using their own social media content, we want to create a short film memoir of an individual – with the output feeling meaningful, personalised, beautiful and potentially provocative. And we want to see if we can create this using an automated process.
Our ambition was that the Protagonist service will be a commercial, stand-alone, direct-to-consumer product, but will also be used within the Afterlife Retreat (a large-scale residential theatre event The Other Way Works are planning for 2016).

To produce a design fiction film
To produce a technical specification for the software build

An attractive design fiction film to illustrate the potential of the service. Working closely with an animator we have produced a film with a crafted, hand-made aesthetic, which is unique in the marketplace.
A Requirements document based on our research, to inform the Technology Feasibility Studies/Specifications.
Technology Feasibility Studies/Specifications from two independent software consultants/agencies demonstrating different approaches.
A summary of responses from our market research questionnaire.

Key Learning Outcomes
Building a prototype is feasible, and could be done for c£40,000.
Some adjustments would need to be made to the Specification, including reducing the range of social media feeds, and streamlining the processes that identify meaningfulness of the content to the user.
Music to soundtrack the video is a key component, with as much impact as the visual style. Rights and licensing cause a problem here, meaning that people can’t just have their favourite song to accompany the video. A selection of rights-free music would need to be offered, which mitigates the problem, but doesn’t solve it.
Construction of narrative from online data poses an extremely complex computing problem, which is just starting to be explored by digital giants such as Google and Facebook. It would be very difficult to compete in this marketplace currently.

Dr John Troyer


The Protagonist project is ahead of its time. The ideas are sound, the research relatively easy to complete, and the concept is strong. The problem is that current computer technology and proprietary ownership of that technology makes creating a Protagonist platform difficult and somewhat expensive. At a future date, and perhaps not that far in the future, this kind of cross-platform video creation will be possible. At that point the technology will be used by a wide array of businesses and individuals. From my own research, I know that the Protagonist platform would create the kind of video content that funeral directors and other organisations working on personal memorialisation projects would find quite useful. One of the other groups that will benefit from this technology is archivists, many of whom will encounter enormous difficulties in the near future when it comes to storing digital content and information for prolonged periods of time.

For me, the entire project, and working with Katie, pointed towards what kind of future these online content platforms are working towards. At this point and time it seems far-fetched that one single company or government entity will own and run all online content platforms, so these disparate groups could end up creating a Protagonist-like system that runs across the groups. I have my doubts that this will happen, but it could.

The project also opened up another point for me, which is this: Maybe it is completely acceptable that most of a person’s online content is eventually lost and ultimately deleted. We first world Homo sapiens currently live in a historical moment in which the concept and practice of information preservation is crucial for an individual’s identity. I’m no longer convinced that our future cousins will necessarily view a lifetime’s worth of digital content with such reverence. Indeed, the difficulties in maintaining accessibility to that information as computer technology changes is itself alone a fundamental issue. Many people fail to realise, I think, that internet years are significantly shorter than human years.

Dr. John Troyer
Deputy Director, Centre for Death and Society
University of Bath

Technical Feasibility Documents


We contracted two developers, independently of each other, to draw up a Technical Feasibility and Specification document for the build of a prototype of the Protagonist service. We wanted to get different ideas about how the problems could be solved, and get a sense of what approaches we could take.

We provided this Requirements Document as something to work from.

Here are their reports:

Tom Martin

The Swarm

Research and Market Research



We undertook research into existing systems, ideas, companies and academic research to build our understanding of the area.
Pinterest Board with links to projects, people and services of interest to the project

Market Research

Focus GroupBees in a Tin Event, Birmingham, February 2014
An initial session to gauge potential user interest, and discover what kind of features would be appealing in a product like this.

Focus GroupPervasive Media Studio, Bristol, April 2014
A drop in session. Using printed versions of the online survey to provoke discussion and feedback. To gain specific feedback on video structure, which events were thought ‘important’, and highlight any concerns around privacy.

Online Survey
A survey was put together using Google Forms, and disseminated via online networks, to provide us with a wider range of feedback on our proposals. A summary of responses can be seen in Appendix.

Above is the graph of responses to the question “Which social networks hold your richest content?”:

Design fiction film


The test user for the film, Hannah Nicklin, has kindly agreed to our use of her content in this context to allow us to illustrate the Protagonist concept.

The test user was selected because of her active use of many social media platforms, which would provide us with a good range of content to work with.

The user’s content was selected manually, using the Specification as a guideline for the selection process.

The animation effects were created by animator Hazel O’Brien, using paper folding and green screen filming. The content used is in a digital format. These effects could easily become templates.

The music was composed and produced in response to the film by Mark Day.

Some brief initial feedback from the test user after seeing her film for the first time

It was nicely esoteric
I couldn’t tell how it had decided to choose some stuff
It was about 65%­70% on the money with what was significant (i.e. it didn’t know I was broken up with on graduation night!)
It was really nice to see family
The ‘on this date’ stuff was nice but it made me feel like an asshole I was complaining about having holes in my shoes on the day the first black president of the USA was elected.
The design was lovely
I was engaged the whole way through
I didn’t feel like it represented me
I did feel like it represented me online
I wanted there to be more Instagram because I like that place most
I wondered what other people were saying back to me, it felt odd for me to exist in a vacuum using content from such social space
I wanted it to choose some music from stuff I like on Soundcloud

Successful Elements


The aesthetic of the film received positive responses, and people appreciated the home-made look.

The ‘on this day in history’ snapshots had a good impact, and are technically the easiest to select user content for (the primary selection method being the datestamp, which is a universal item of metadata).

An example of this is shown in two screen shots from the design fiction film above.

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