group of children sitting on chairs are looking at a poster.

We’re recruiting an illustrator and an animator for A Rainbow for Amala

March 16, 2024 by

The Other Way Works are recruiting for two new roles to help us create our climate emergency-themed interactive story book for kids ‘A Rainbow for Amala’.

Deadline for applications: Friday 5 April, 5pm

Freelance Illustrator

The illustrator will collaborate with the creative team to develop a visual style for the project and illustrate the final book and digital assets. We need black and white line drawings, and a full colour cover. The main characters are a British Bangladeshi family living in inner city Birmingham.

Illustrator fee: £2,200

Read the full illustrator brief and how to apply here.

Freelance Animator

The animator will collaborate with the creative team to develop animated digital assets that are accessed by readers via QR codes in a printed book. The video assets will bring to life the action in the story.

Animator fee: £1,400

Read the full animator brief and how to apply here.

We are open to both roles being done by the same person if they have the relevant skills and experience.

Recruiting a Project Producer for ‘A Rainbow for Amala’

January 10, 2024 by

The Other Way Works are recruiting a Project Producer to help us create our climate emergency themed interactive story book for kids ‘A Rainbow for Amala’.


It’s a fast turnaround – the deadline for applications is next week – 5pm on Wednesday 17th January 2024!

View the brief here – Producer Brief

All the info about the role and the process of applying is in the PDF.

Making A Moment of Madness On Demand: An interview with Director Katie Day

April 26, 2023 by

A Moment of Madness: On Demand is enjoying fabulous feedback from its immersive audience, so we asked Katie to tell us what inspired the interactive spy thriller and to give those audiences who are yet to experience the game an idea about what they might expect… 

Q. How did you create the initial idea for A Moment of Madness, and how did it evolve?

So, the initial idea was that we would make this interactive box of documents and a simple phone, like an old Nokia phone, that we would use text messages and voicemails, and written documents, and ephemera to tell a story. And initially, we used the story world from Black Tonic, a previous project, as a foundation to experiment upon, but then we brought onboard a writer, Tim Wright. Together John, Tim and I went through a process of coming up with ideas for different story worlds to use for this kind of storytelling mechanism that we wanted to explore; we had several different ideas but the one that we decided to go with was this idea about political corruption, espionage, personal scandal in the political sphere. So the initial idea was born from that kind of brainstorming. Tim, the writer, used to work on a news desk and he just has an encyclopedic knowledge of politicians and their personal scandals. 

Q. How long has A Moment of Madness been in the making?

We started with the initial concept in around 2014, so it’s a very long time. We started making the actual original production in about 2017. I then went on maternity leave for 10 months. And then we came back and went into full production phase ready to launch it. It premiered in May 2019 and then toured that year around the country. We then planned to do further in-person, real world touring, and then obviously the pandemic happened, so we decided to adapt what we had to an online Zoom format, which was released in May 2021. A Moment of Madness On Demand came from there.

Q. What was the inspiration to create a production that fuses theatre and gameplay?

The Other Way Works has been making interactive and immersive theatre productions, working in site based locations, for nearly 20 years. I’ve always been interested in how to create a lot of agency for audiences, making space for them to be really active in the experience. When I started learning a bit more about real world gaming, using those ideas and integrating them with immersive theatre it felt like the genre could be a really good solution for giving audiences more agency in the experience, and make something more playable. It’s about creating an experience for audiences that is just really exciting, really immersive, where they feel like they’re integral to it actually happening, and it goes beyond just walking through a space and looking at stuff. So that’s what I’m really aspiring to in the work that I make. And obviously, collaborating with John Sear meant that I had access to a lot of the theory and the practice of actually creating games and implementing them.

Q. What was the inspiration behind the main narrative thread, and how did you develop this?

Our inspiration was the cascade of politicians and their personal scandals over the years. There’s just so many bizarre scandals that politicians have been involved with, we just kind of made amalgams based on these to inform our characters. As we’ve been developing this new version there have been a lot of discussions about how when we wrote this in 2017/18 this was representative of how British politicians went about things. There are these scandals, but then if they were discovered the people were forced to face up to them. People resigned. And we look on in a kind of shocked amazement that that’s changed so much between 2017 and 2023, where politicians will just blast over the fact that these scandals are coming out and just don’t really care anymore, don’t think they should resign, don’t think that they have to be holding themselves to a moral standard. Which is quite shocking in only a five to six year period.

Q. What does the at home element bring to the production and the overall experience?

What the at home element brings is accessibility. We were excited about the idea of making this story experience accessible to people whenever they wanted to play it, so the at home experience just allows us to offer it to people in a much broader way than we have been able to before. Often our productions are very resource intensive to present and that means that our tours and audience numbers can be quite limited because the costs of mounting the productions are higher than the amount that we can make through performing them. So, this allows us to use all this huge amount of work that we’ve done in making this story world and this production and allows us to slightly condense it into something that people can play whenever they like. We really hope that we can reach more audiences, broader audiences.

Q. How did you decide what parts of the story are determined by the audience?

We haven’t really made a ‘choose your own adventure’ experience. Stylistically my preference is to come up with a guided route through a narrative. I see it as my role to tell a story to an audience. And so, it isn’t a free exploration of a narrative environment. It is a guided telling of this story, and we hope that we do that in a way that has a recognition of pace and surprises, twists and turns, and gradual revelation. It gives people an opportunity to push the edges of the experience, do the research, put in the work, but they don’t particularly define what happens. It’s about how they engage with the story world, where their interests lead them, which doors they push on, to inform the nuance of the storytelling. The main decision that they make is at the end of the production, where they get to decide the fate of the main character.

To play A Moment of Madness: On Demand for yourself click here

‘A Moment of Madness: On Demand’ launches today!

March 3, 2023 by

‘A Moment of Madness: On Demand’ launched today and is now available online for you to play whenever you choose.

The experience will be available to play for FREE for a limited period.

For more information about how to play, click the button below:

A Moment of Madness: On Demand is supported by The Space and Arts Council England with funding from the National Lottery, and by The Foyle Foundation.

A Moment of Madness NEW On Demand version coming soon!

December 8, 2022 by

We are delighted announce that The Space has commissioned a new iteration of A Moment of Madness which will be available on demand. We are deep into building this now with our brilliant collaborators and look forward to emerging in early 2023 with an update on when it will be available to play.  

Enjoy our teaser trailer above to whet your appetite!

A Moment of Madness: On Demand is supported by The Space and Arts Council England with funding from the National Lottery, and by The Foyle Foundation.

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

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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

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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.

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