April 26, 2023

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

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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

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