Black Tonic: collaboration, funding and opening the box

In the past couple of sessions for our CATH project, we’ve refined ideas further, talked lots and sketched and drawn. We’ve now come up with a core idea we’re working on for the remainder of the time on the project.

This idea combines a physical object – a box – and some digital elements, to tell a story. The story is related to the script and research in Black Tonic, and enhances the experience for people who have been to the show (or are planning to do so), but also stands alone.

In the last session in December, we used paper and pens to quickly sketch, build and test ideas for the story sequence when unwrapping and opening the box.

We thought a lot about timings for breaking the seal and opening the box, and what we wanted people to see and understand of the story as they did so.

The next session is later this week. We’re looking at taking the story on further and exploring the sequence of events once the seal on the box is broken.

Two themes stand out for me as we’ve worked through the Black Tonic CATH project, and continue to influence what we’re creating: research and small funding.


Early on, Katie worked on some audience research. She created a survey to give us some insights into what people might want to experience. This quick, early bit of research has been hugely helpful in guiding and shaping our ideas through the project. We hold up ideas against the research and work out what we do, and crucially, what we don’t do.

Small funding

It feels crucial to have access to small bits of funding for projects like these. The AHRC/CATH funding has enabled us to test several things right from the start: ideas, collaborations with people from different disciplines, working relationships.

It’s given us the space to quickly make and test ideas for the project, and abandon or alter things that don’t work – which we’ve done several times already.

If we’d gone straight to applying for a larger amount of funding for a finished, fixed product, we wouldn’t have had the space and time to test whether that idea actually worked, potentially wasting time, ideas and money.

Both the research and funding elements have helped us to be flexible, responsive, and realistic. Together, they have allowed us to kill the ideas we love (but that don’t work) and pick out, nurture and test ones that we love – and that might just work.

I’ll post an update on the next stage of the project soon.

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