Development Blog – Messing around on Bandstands in the snow – by Katherine Maxwell Cook

February 14, 2012 by

Two great actor/devisers helped Katie and I in the afternoon to begin to play with the instructional side of the piece. Gareth Nicholls and Lucy Ellinson listened, in turn, to both the male and female sides of the story – we also gave them specific, physical instructions to carry out.

Watching from a distance, we were able to see at which points the two participants interacted and where they were disconnected from each other. Afterwards we quizzed Gareth and Lucy on their experiences. They both expressed a greater desire to connect with the other participant. Currently we have not created many opportunities for interaction. The actors felt as though they were very much in their own world however there were a couple of ‘tingly’ moments as Gareth called them. He liked watching Lucy walk away from him at the very end of the male story. How do we make this ‘tingly’ for the female side of the story though? There is lots more to play with here and having physical bodies there really helps us with this.

We spent some time having a go at different actions which the two participants could do around the bandstand. A bit of eye contact and subtle flirting through the railings is a particular favourite. Anytime the two participants come closer together, the energy is raised and the stories really seem to take off. So some real potential to create powerful moments in these interactions.

The trick will be connecting the text with the actions in each story and then connecting the two stories with each other as well as the two different sets of actions. Sorry, did I hear someone say, ‘Well The Other Way Works always does like a challenge? Us? Nah!

Development Blog – Digging in at the Archives – by Katherine Maxwell Cook

February 13, 2012 by

A day trip to Wolverhampton had me stopping off at the local Archives in the beautiful Molineux Hotel Building. I spent hours going through past copies of The Express and Star to see if there were any adverts or articles about the bandstand in West Park.

I was trying to work out if concerts were happening there in 1946 or if they had been abandoned due to some kind of post war cut backs. I knew the bandstand had gone into disrepair during the second half of the twentieth century but I wasn’t sure when this began. I had to stay focused – much as I wanted to read about all local gossip of 1940s Wolverhampton and find out who had been scamming who, I was determined to find out something about the bandstand.

Eventually I stumbled on some adverts for concerts that were taking place on the bandstand in July and August. Various, mostly military bands from around the country would play on Sunday afternoons and evenings. You had to pay 3 shillings to get into the enclosure for music and dancing. I was really excited to discover these adverts as so far the stories depend on entertainment having taken place on the bandstands in that year. we would have been pretty stuck if we found out music and dancing was off the menu in 1946.

The Willenhall Siver Prize Band

In the archives I also discovered a short, experimental film made about West Park. There are various voices where people talk about their experiences of the park. It was interesting to hear that even in recent times, some people take refuge in the park because of racism or abuse experienced by going into town. A few older voices talked about dancing around the bandstand on wooden platforms which were built over the fields. A good specific detail which I’ll use in the stories to help embed them in the location.

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

January 27, 2012 by

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’ve been looking at old black and white photographs of the bandstand in West Park and trying to imagine what it was like to be there in a bygone era. The Black Country website ( is an amazing resource of historical pictures, pamphlets and articles from the region. It looks like the actual layout of the park hasn’t changed much since it was originally landscaped in the 1880s.

But a photo of the bandstand from 1994 looks rather miserable and decrepit in comparison to the restored glory in which it now stands, with its red and white striped pillars like old Victorian sweets along with the refurbished roof and floor. How it looked and was used in 1948 when part of our story is set, still remains somewhat of a mystery.

Questions I am asking…

What was it like in the park after World War II when much of it had been turned into allotments for the war effort? Were bands playing on the bandstand during this time?

How will the male and female sides of the story differ?

What effect did the war have on the relationship between the man and the woman?

What is it about the bandstand that is so alluring, even today?

I enjoyed reading this description of the Black Country from the mid nineteenth century, ‘The appearance of the country around Wolverhampton and Bilston is strange in the extreme. For miles and miles the eye ranges over wide-spreading masses of black rubbish, hills on hills of shale, and mashed and muddled coal dust, extracted from beneath and masking, as it were, the whole face of nature.” (

It reminded me of the importance of public parks in the industrial heartlands; even in the last century they were weekend sanctuaries; an opportunity to stroll on the green grass, go boating or picnic under the sheltering trees. Somehow I’ll try to weave this sense of escape into the stories I’m writing.

Katherine Maxwell-Cook