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Across the divide of a scorched basketball court two girls meet, shoot hoops and discover their shared obsessions make them inseparable friends. But will faith, growing pains and the darker reactions of others get in the way of that long, hot, orange summer?
Hot Orange is a coming of age story about friendship, young love and forgiveness. We follow two loveable characters as they move through the complexities of confronting their friendship, which has been shaped by religion and society. They untangle themselves from what they’ve learned to affirm who they truly are and to express what they truly need.
You can say it’s also a slight love letter to the diverse community of South London and how beautiful it can be in summertime.
“We wanted to represent queer characters we rarely get to see; who were joyful and not tragic, yet also real and messy.”
The inspiration behind the show were the memories that Amal Khalidi, my Hot Orange co-writer, and I shared about our early interactions with relationships. We imagined a Disney princess and prince on a basketball court watching older people navigate relationships. We thought about what it looked like for queer young people, when they wanted to be the prince, but could also be the princess. How do you look back at that first crush without shame?
We wanted to represent queer characters we rarely get to see; who were joyful and not tragic, yet also real and messy.
Amal and I took part in a 2021 art form development programme with Half Moon, the producers of Hot Orange, called Narratives of Empathy and Resilience, alongside a talented cohort of writers, directors, designers and composers, and were lucky to be paired up together.
We wrote an initial, much shorter, version of the play and then, over the next 18 months, with numerous Zoom co-writing sessions, endless Google Doc drafts, frequent meetings with Chris Elwell (the director of Half Moon and Hot Orange) and a couple of development sessions, the script was expanded and fine-tuned into the final performance script.
It was a crazy cool period and a very new process for both of us, co-writing and being commissioned for the first time in our lives to write a full-length piece.
“We had to learn to take space, to love ourselves, to forgive each other and to understand that we have nothing to prove. I think the characters get there in the end.”
I feel like the characters are reflections of our younger selves, brought up in very culturally specific contexts in religious households, navigating who we are outside of those spaces in relation to our queerness. We had to learn to take space, to love ourselves, to forgive each other and to understand that we have nothing to prove. I think the characters get there in the end.
Playfulness, poetry, banging beats and energy. After the show, I would like audiences to be filled with love, hope and joy! If I had to describe the show in three words, I would say punchy, playful and tender.
Find out more and book tickets Explore the Hot Orange tour dates
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