Joe Orton: 50 Years On

Joe Orton (1933-1967) was a Leicester-born playwright whose life and work Joe Ortonhelped to define 1960s British culture. Known for his anarchic black comedies and sexually frank diary, Orton is a major postwar dramatist and a gay icon.

This project marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Orton’s three major plays:

  • Entertaining Mr Sloane (2014)
  • Loot (2016)
  • What the Butler Saw (2019).

The project also commemorates the 50th anniversary of his death in 2017.

Through a series of exhibitions, productions, screenings, talks, and publications that pay particular attention to issues of class and sexuality, the project seeks to celebrate Orton’s achievements, to consider previously overlooked aspects of his work, and to recognise his cultural impact and legacy.

To mark the 50th anniversary of Orton’s death in 2017, Dr Emma Parker partnered with filmmaker Chris Shepherd to launch a creative writing competition for post-16 students inspired by the prank letters of complaint that Orton penned under the name ‘Edna Welthorpe’ and to commission new letters from renowned writers, actors and artists. Find out about Edna Welthorpe and read the new letters here.

Project partners

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • Curve theatre, Leicester
  • Leicester Arts and Museums Service
  • National Justice Museum, Nottingham
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, London
  • Arts Council England
  • Polkadot Productions

Events

Event titleLocationDate

A Screening of Entertaining Mr Sloane (1968) starring Sheila Hancock, introduced by Emma Parker

FREE

Tate Liverpool

Saturday 4 November 2017

2.00pm

Joe Orton and Me: Breaking Boundaries

Supported by Heritage Lottery Fund

Soft Touch: Young People’s Arts and Heritage Centre and Pork Pie Library, Leicester 9 August – 8 September 2017

Yours Faithfully, Edna Welthorpe (Mrs)

A Celebration of Joe Orton

The Little Theatre

Wednesday 9 August 2017

7.00pm

Joe Orton: Working Class, Queer, and Onscreen BFI, Reuben Library

Monday 7 August 2017

6.30pm

What the Artist Saw: New Art Inspired by the Life and Work of Joe Orton New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester 29 July – 22 October 2017

Crimes of Passion: The Story of Joe Orton

An exhibition co-curated by Bev Baker and Emma Parker

National Justice Museum, Nottingham

22 July – 1 October 2017

Yours Faithfully, Edna Welthorpe (Mrs)

A Celebration of Joe Orton

Chris Shephard, Robin Ince, Emma Parker, Leonie Orton

Latitude Festival, Southwold

Sunday 16 July 2017

7.25pm-8.25pm

Joe Orton: Legacy and Influence

A Talk by Emma Parker, David Lock and Marilyn Lock

Tate Britain

Queer and Now: Tate Britain Pride Festival

Saturday 24 June 2017

3.00pm-4.50pm

What the Artist Saw: New Art Inspired by the Life and Work of Joe Orton

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), London

5 February – 4 March 2017

Leonie Orton: I Had it In Me

Join Leonie Orton to discuss her newly published memoir I Had it In Me.

Chaired by Dr Emma Parker

FREE

Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester

Wednesday 16 November 2016

2.00pm-3.00pm

 

Joe Orton and 'Shoxbear' with Dr Emma Parker

A free lecture about Orton's relationship to Shakespeare

FREE

Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester

Wednesday 16 November 2016

1.00pm-2.00pm

Joe Orton’s Loot: A 50th Anniversary Celebration

A day of talks by Orton’s friends, family and fans

New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester Sunday 25 September 2016

Joe Orton’s Loot: A 50th Anniversary Celebration

An exhibition of material from the Joe Orton Archive, University of Leicester

Curator: Dr Samantha Mitschke, AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellow, University of Leicester

FREE

New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester 24 September – 30 October 2016

An Evening with Kenneth Cranham

Introduced and Chaired by Dr Emma Parker. Tickets £7

Curve Theatre, Leicester Saturday 24 September 2016
Entertaining Mr Sloane: A 50th Anniversary Celebration University of Leicester Wednesday 29 June 2014

Useful Resources

Joe Orton Online

Joe Orton: 1964 in Pictures

An interview with actor Michael Elwyn

An interview with director Braham Murray

An interview with the actor Kenneth Cranham

An interview with the actor Dudley Sutton

An interview with director Nick Bagnall

An interview with novelist Jake Arnott

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