Emily Orley

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Searching Shadows, Lighting Bones
A performance lecture                  
2016-17

Direction by Christopher Heighes . Sound design by Bruce Sharp and Robert Watts


With the discovery of the x-ray in 1895 came a radical shift in what we were able to see. For the first time, the bones inside living bodies were made visible. Flesh was made transparent.

After the discovery of the x-ray in 1895 people all over the world began to test it with their hands. There was a sudden proliferation of pictures of the bones in human hands.

Human hands contain 27 bones. Among them, the lunate, the scaphoid, the capitate.

In 27 segments, I will put together, as one might assemble the bones of an exhumed hand , the life of one man: a radiologist, an immigrant, my grandfather.  Lunate, scaphoid, capitate.  In the same 27 segments, I will offer a brief and fractured history of the beginnings of radiology. It will be a story of bones become visible. A story of travelling, lighting and searching shadows.




" A fascinating piece of work."

Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network


"It’s a very elegant piece, and also a very scholarly one – not just because its discussion of xrays is scrupulously backed up with references and statistics, but also because of the way it manages a delicate emotional collage with well-judged quotations and timely repetitions." 

Sally Barnden, Euston Street Diaries


Next showing:

As part of Offbeat Oxford 2017, 23rd June to 2nd July.
Read more about the Festival here.



Past performances:


  • The One Festival at the Space Theatre, London (January 2017)
  • The first High Fidelity performance event, Chisenhale Dance Studios, London (April 2016)
  • Acts Re-Acts 3 Performance Lab, Wimbledon College of Arts, London (February 2016)