Play your cards like midday is midnight – a new blog series charting the re-mounting of Black Tonic in 2015

March 18, 2015 by

Ahead of our 2015 re-tour of Black Tonic, we are taking the opportunity to polish, improve, and even completely re-make parts of the show to make it the best it can be for this new tour.

This blog series will chart the creative development process, and hopefully provide an insight into how a show like this gets made.

You can find all the blogs in this series here: Play Your Cards

R&D Retreat

July 17, 2014 by

R&D Retreat
Monnington House, Herefordshire February 2014

Watch the film documenting the week here

In February 2014 we brought together a small group of artists to develop ideas for a new project ‘Afterlife’ during a residential R&D week in rural Herefordshire.
‘Afterlife’ will be a 3 night residential retreat for 12 participants, where they are supported to select ONE memory from their life so far that would like to live in for eternity, and to receive artistic interpretations of the memory to take home that will act as memory triggers.
Our aim for the R&D week was to creatively interrogate the idea, and explore ways in which we could create this kind of experience for our participant­audience.
The artists all kept a journal during the week to note reflections and insights. Extracts from these are quoted below to help tell the story of the week.

We arrived at night, so none of us had a real sense of where we were, the look of the land nearby, if there were any houses, animals, etc… All this was unveiled the next morning. Having a secret location where participants arrive by cabs at night, might help with the sense of being retreated or in another dimension.


Every Monday should be labyrinth day! This was our first activity and one that I’ll keep in my mind forever.

The Labyrinth for me was a very apt introduction to what we are exploring. The group got together pretty fast and devised a way to make the shape of the Labyrinth collectively. The way these group dynamics worked contributed, I found, to the overall experience. The participation of everyone in the making of a common “game” with specific rules, and then the experience of walking the Labyrinth, helped me enter the right state of mind for thinking about the memories I would visit, and for sharing the space with the rest of the group.

We tried out a variety of creative techniques to find ways to unlock our memories, using smells, music, meditation, writing exercises, and visual prompt cards.

I like the more tangential sessions, approaching memory less directly: so, meditation and images are good and fruitful, the ‘think of a happy memory’ questions less so.


One writing exercise was based on our five senses: smell, taste, touch, sound and sight. What I found surprising was that every single sense brought completely different memories to the ones I had over the week. Five brand new memories.

Next we experimented with ways to get inside the memory and flesh it out, using drawing and writing exercises, and describing the environment of the memory to camera, then watching the films back.

Feelings and emotions are a key to this retreat. As a participant I was asked to delve into my past memories and pick one. This process, apart from bringing back these memories as images, brought up feelings and emotions. In some cases more intense than others.

We created immersive re­-enactments of two artists’ selected memories, and sought theirs and each others’ feedback on these.
Members of the team also created artistic interpretations of the two memories that would act as memory triggers: a haiku, a short piece of prose, a design for a trinket, a short film, an audio clip. ­­­

What worked for me was the interaction with other people’s memories.

The act of making the memory is a form of myth­making. This has the power to make the participants feel like they really are the heroes of their stories ­ if only momentarily.


We learned that the immersive experience is a powerful thing and valuable. It creates a new memory, linked to the original one.


Seeing her reaction [to the immersive re­enactment of her memory] made me a little emotional, but in a very positive way as I felt we’d nailed her memory recall experience. I felt proud of our work as a team and could imagine the sense of achievement we’d get from helping other people to re­live their memories and experiences.

Presentation to each other of artistic interpretations of our memories: micro films, creative writing, and designs for trinkets.

Creating something symbolic/impressionistic is more effective than something realistic. Also fragments are more successful as they allow room for the imagination. A sequence of fragments works well.


The team produced some beautiful things and experiences: films, immersive sensory experiences, poems, creative prose, designs for bespoke objects (drawings), tastes etc.

We found that the ‘metaphor’ of the memory is really helpful for creating the artistic memory triggers.


The difference with the sort of performance approach we have is that it puts the audience at the centre of the performance experience. The participants become directors of their own memories.

Katie Day | Mark Day | Chris Keenan | Jorge Lizalde | Katherine Maxwell­Cook | Xristina Penna | Louise Platt

Producer: Thomas Wildish

Director: Katie Day

Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

Agent in a Box R&D

April 18, 2014 by

We were lucky enough to be awarded a ‘CATH’ grant last year, and have been working in collaboration with some excellent people to create a new concept using our 2008 production Black Tonic as its inspiration.

Agent in a Box is a collaboration between:

Katie Day –

Alyson Fielding –

John Sear –  /

Inspired by The Other Way Works’ 2008 immersive theatre production ‘Black Tonic’

This pilot project has been delivered through the Collaborative Arts Triple Helix, a research project by the University of Birmingham in partnership with University of Leicester, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of their Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange programme.

Agent in a Box will eventually be an hour-long spy thriller, theatre game experience, to be played alone in an anonymous hotel bedroom.
Agent in a box is an exciting creative content offer for those boring evenings you spend in chain business hotels when travelling for work with only CNN for company.

The experience is delivered in the form of a portable box (the size of a box of chocolates), which can be purchased for yourself or as a gift. An interactive story of espionage told through paper fragments, phone and text messages, provoking the player to accept the invitation of the anonymous hotel room to become someone new if only for one night.

We are now seeking partnerships to help us develop the project.

Gallery of early concept photos for Afterlife

July 15, 2013 by

Attempts to capture how we wanted the experience to feel as a participant

Bandstand in Development

July 28, 2012 by

Work is underway on our current project – Bandstand.

Bandstand is a series of audio theatre experiences designed to be enjoyed in situ on a bandstand.

Check out the Bandstand microsite for blogs and updates about the project.

Bandstand Development Blog – Old photos and things I am thinking about… – by Katherine Maxwell-Cook

January 27, 2012 by

Bandstand Development Blog – Old photos and things I am thinking about… – by Katherine Maxwell-Cook

We are currently making two new Bandstand Audio Experiences for the bandstand in West Park, Wolverhampton. We are working with our commissioning partners Black Country Touring to develop and promote these new works.

I’m Katherine Maxwell-Cook, and I’ll be writing the story and the text for the experiences. One will be for a solo listener/participant/audience member, and one will be written for a pair to experience together.


I feel like I’m in Forced Ent (in a good way)

April 25, 2011 by

We’ve had the pleasure of Lucy Ellinson’s company in the devising room for the last couple of days. Its been great to have another creator in the room, and we’ve enjoyed the momentum that can be created by three people taking turns rather than two (takes the pressure off, and feels more like a team effort).


Fairy tales and Reese Witherspoon fantasies


Here’s an update of what we’ve been exploring as part of the development of our new production – Avon Calling…

We now have funding confirmed from Arts Council England through Grants for the Arts for this project, and are under the wing of mac in Birmingham and rehearsing in their building.

We also had our first session with our mentor Alex Kelly from Third Angel. This was a good provocation for us to develop some bits and bobs to show him, to introduce him to our thoughts and ideas. We got him playing some Avon Party Games, gave him a moisturising hand treatment (he’s a good sport) and filled him in on our ideas around the structure of the audience experience. Alex introduced us to a couple of exercises which we played then, and have modified and played since – which have helped us to access and generate stories.

In the last few weeks we’ve explored conventional story structures, created a kind of ‘wheel of experience’ for the audience, come up with ideas for our central character’s back-story, researched compulsive hoarding and made character notes from this, and moved into exploring writing our own fairy-type stories. We’ve been using an ‘automatic writing’ technique where we write non-stop for 10 minutes on a theme, which helps us not to censor what we produce. In case you weren’t aware, Reese Witherspoon is the international face of Avon, and as a result she features heavily in our tales and fantasies – I mean who wouldn’t aspire to be Reese? She’s stunningly beautiful and yet approachable like the girl next door. Its only a matter of time till you crack too…

Feedback – the joys and the woes

December 1, 2009 by

Feedback – its a tricky thing to get right, isn’t it?

As an artist making work, it seems pretty essential, but it’s so hard to know how to filter the stuff people say.  Everyone has some kind of agenda, a different aesthetic preference.

We got a whole range of snippets of written feedback following 10 minutes of extracts from Avon Calling at First Bite a couple of weeks ago.  Inevitably the negative ones sear themselves onto my retina, whilst the positive ones float in and out and get forgotten about.  I decided to put all the text into Wordle, and the result I think paints a more positive picture than is correct – since it breaks up sentences and just shows single words.

So here is the wordle, and a couple of my favourite bits of feedback.  And just so you know, I do read the feedback, and the negative stuff does hurt my feelings, but the positive stuff has the power to make me want to keep going and make more work and make it better.


“This evening was billed as ‘the region’s most daring theatre…” well if this is one of the “most daring” then heaven help us!”

“very pleasantly tickled by the whole concept”

“Confused… apathetic.. Maybe disgruntled at best.”

“My favourite I adore this piece! Moving Touching Thought provoking – would love to see it develop”

Avon and Me

September 15, 2009 by

AVON AND ME is a web project to collect personal memories and stories about Avon cosmetics.

Stories can be shared by filling in the web form on, by emailing or by tagging photos, video, audio or tweets on the web (Twitter, Flickr, Audioboo, Delicious, Technorati). Your story can be short, long, funny, sad, touching, embarrassing – all are welcome.

AVON AND ME is run by The Other Way Works, an experimental theatre company based in Birmingham, UK.
The Other Way Works creates daring and remarkable theatre that draws the audience into the very heart of the experience.

We are currently developing a theatre production entitled ‘Avon Calling‘. Every time we told anyone about the project, they would launch straight into a little anecdote about Avon – their mum used to be the Avon lady, or their auntie, or their first lipstick was from Avon. Often these stories were personal, about family members, about childhood. It seems that Avon is embedded deep in our lives and memories.

We created AVON AND ME so we can share all of these stories with each other. Share your story now – see ‘How‘ above for tips.

The Other Way Works’ latest work Avon Calling explores the eternal triangle of mother, daughter and… Avon cosmetics. Drawing vividly on personal source material Louise Platt reveals to the audience her mother’s world of shiny new products and multicoloured bottles gathering dust on cupboard tops. An intimate and comic portrait of a woman, a mother, an Ex-Avon Lady.

Avon Calling (In development, 30 minutes of material) as part of ‘It Came From Pilot’
Warwick Arts Centre
Thursday 8th October 2009 19:45 £7.50/£5
Book Tickets through Warwick Arts Centre
Buy Online or call the Box Office: 024 7652 4524

Avon Calling has been commissioned by PILOT Nights / Warwick Arts Centre. Funded by Arts Council England
arts council PILOT Nights

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