THE ORANGE HANDS : DINNER FOR TWO
Don't Panic: Dinner For Two with The Orange Hands
A free, one-on-one interactive theatre piece combining puppetry, storytelling and conversation. Written, Designed, Produced and Performed by Ozzy Algar.
The Orange Hands: Dinner for Two was first developed and performed in Spring 2018 as a site-specific piece in the vault of an abandoned bank in Armley, Leeds. The bank was, at the time, used as performance and studio space by East Street Arts. At the first performance, I met with 11 audience members over an unbroken period of four and a half hours.
The piece is a durational performance in which audience members are given an orange wrapped in newspaper and invited, one at a time, into a darkened room lit with a single overhead UV light, to engage in dinner and conversation with a pair of disembodied orange hands. As the performer, I stood out of sight, inside the echoey vault and stuck my arms through the bars. I used my hands both as puppets, and to gesture. This was to deliberately confuse the character's physicality - Was it really a severed pair of animated hands? Who was behind the chatting fingers?
Entering the room, they find a single table set for two, with knives forks and saucers, and a chair facing the vault door. The audience unwraps and eats their Orange, The Orange Hands eats a Banana. On the table, a list of conversation prompts; A story told together, The Weather, Frogs, Jokes, Songs. They can hear the story of the life of The Orange Hands, or tell The Orange Hand's their life story.
The piece develops as the conversation develops between the audience and performer, each performance totally unique, guided and built together. If they chose to simply sit, that is what it will be. If they choose to scream, confess, cry, that is what it will be. There is no time limit to how long they can spend together, or what they can discuss. The conversation prompts are for those audience members who may feel worried or nervous about entering the space in a state of total unknowing.
One audience member told me all about the lives of Whales, their favourite topic. Others ate their oranges quietly, or told me about their own lives. It was incredibly intimate. As the hours went on, I improvised a narrative of the life of The Orange Hands, which by the end was solidified; A lonely creature who had never seen the sky and creates stories about space in her darkened room. It was delicate and moving.
I used the unnerving scenographic elements and location to create a sense of trepidation; Harsh, unnatural lighting, a darkened, isolated room, a disembodied host, and low aural frequencies piped in. The vault had a deep low echo, which reverberated as I spoke and moved in the space. I deliberately juxtaposed these elements with the procedural narrative; The gift of the wrapped orange, the familiar setting of eating together, dreamy storytelling, calm vocal cadence and soothing conversation topics. I wanted to ground the strange with the familiar, and curate a bespoke, unnatural experience for each audience member.
List of conversation prompts from the performance
Anonymous Feedback for The Orange Hands
1. I felt really calm but it were kind of funny. I loved it very much.
2. Very enjoyable, loved the mysterious nature of it.
3. I panicked!
4. I find it kind of fun and friendly and kind of spiritual in a way. Liked the story you told.
5. At first the set up gave a feeling of unease, UV light, no face, felt detached. But the conversation brought you to become more relaxed, and the personalities of the hands was a charming, and loved the serendipitous song.
6. Thought it was good, like to talk to her, a good set very orange and blue, good colours, relaxing, scary at first. Like a confessional, cool, like story. Fantastic teller
7. Very quick witted. The orange hands were confusing but not unlikeable. I hope they escape soon. However, with my skills of mechanical engineering I fear it is unlikely. Dinner was delicious, if a bit fruity. Firm handshake. Lots of love x
8. I felt very sorry for the orange hands, it is so sad that she cannot see the sky. Especially when she is such a good dinner host. Aesthetically beautiful well done!
9. Absolutely brilliant! Loved the wizard, Kiwi, orange frog story. But must say, toads deserve respect too! A++++ Fantastic
10. Love everyone
11. I wish there were no conversation prompts. Visually stunning! X
Halli Galli Theatre and Art Collective was founded in Leeds in September 2016 by Ozzy Algar, Michael Elmes, Joe-Kent Walters and Jacob Justice. Halli Galli is phrase shared by German and Hindi, meaning 'Hullaballoo' or 'Wild Partying'.
Halli Galli focuses on devised storytelling through alternative and interactive methods. This has taken the form of a wedding in a phone box, adaptations of graphic novels for the stage and our own style of 'immersive theatre club nights' which combines durational interactive theatre, with club spaces and DJ's. Halli Galli often works in non-theatre spaces, and operates around the principle that anyone can interact with a new world if you bring right it to them.
When The Wind Blows
Alisha, Liam and Ozzy Rehearsing.
When The Wind Blows
Halli Galli 2017
Graphic Novel originally by Raymond Briggs, script adapted for stage by Joe Kent-Walters
Co-directed by Ozzy Algar, Joe Kent-Walters and Jacob Justice
Designed by Ozzy Algar
Lighting and Projection Designed and Operated by Jacob Justice
Sound Designed and Operated by Joe Kent-Walters
Jim played by Liam Kenrick
Hilda played by Alisha Brown
Performed February 2017 Stage@Leeds
Halli Galli's Eclipse. October 2017. Hyde Park Book Club Leeds. Poster credit Ozzy Algar.
Taking over a community event space for one evening, Halli Galli curated a night of cabaret, ritual spectacle and DJ's within the storyline of an isolated village's Lunar Eclipse festival. In one room, a series of cabaret acts performed, downstairs there was space for dancing. There were fairground games and characters walking about interacting with audience members. At midnight everyone gathered for the eclipse ritual, and a 'devil' was summoned by live fiddle playing.
The events are designed to be liminal and provide each attendee with a unique experience.
Halli Galli Hits The Swamp. Devised Immersive theatre club night. February 2018. Hyde Park Book Club Leeds. Poster Credit Ozzy Algar.
Again taking over Hyde Park Book Club, Halli Galli curated a series of interactive experiences within the overarching storyline of 'The Swamp'. A night of theatrical spectacle, music and mayhem, designed, produced and delivered by the members of Halli Galli collective. Sewing and Sex-Education Lessons from the swamp mama, a live band called 'The Alligators', and staged wrestling. The night also platformed local DJ's.