New 50th anniversary edition of Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane uncovers key changes made to script

Posted by er134 at Apr 14, 2014 10:30 AM |
Dr Emma Parker, of the University of Leicester’s School of English, has produced a new edition of Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane to mark the 50th anniversary of the play’s premiere on Tuesday 6 May

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 14 April 2014

Media/ photo opportunity: 12noon, Tuesday 6 May at the University of Leicester’s Bookshop, David Wilson Library. Contact: Dr Emma Parker or Elizabeth-Anne Grummitt at:

When Entertaining Mr Sloane was first staged 50 years ago, Orton’s satire on sexual hypocrisy sparked widespread controversy.

Now, a University of Leicester expert has published a new edition of the play to mark its 50th anniversary, drawing on previously unpublished material from the Joe Orton archive, part of the University’s Special Collections in the David Wilson Library.

In her introduction, Dr Emma Parker, of the University’s School of English, discusses the furore ignited by the play in 1964, considers its social and theatrical significance, and assesses its influence on other writers.

Dr Parker states: “Given the legalisation of gay marriage on 29 March, 2014 offers an apposite moment to reassess Orton’s legacy. As a working class writer and a gay man who put same-sex desire on stage before the legalisation of homosexuality in 1967, Orton’s achievement was enormous.”

However, in the course of her research Dr Parker uncovered major differences between different editions of the play, which suggest that the decade known as the ‘Swinging Sixties’ was still deeply conservative. Against Orton’s wishes, the age of the central character was raised from seventeen to twenty in order to make his sexual relationships less shocking.

Dr Parker’s new edition, published by Methuen Drama, will be launched at a 50th ‘birthday party’ for Mr Sloane in the University Bookshop on Tuesday 6 May at 12noon.

Later that day, Dr Parker will introduce a screening of Entertaining Mr Sloane (dir. Douglas Hickox, 1970), starring Beryl Reid, at the Phoenix cinema. She will join Joe Orton’s sister, Leonie Orton Barnett, to take questions in the bar after the film.

Celebrations continue on 29 June 2014, when Dr Parker will host a special event at the University to mark the 50th anniversary of the play’s West End transfer.

The event will start with a rare screening of the 1968 ITV Playhouse version of Entertaining Mr Sloane, starring Sheila Hancock, on loan from the British Film Institute.

Speakers include the bestselling novelist Jake Arnott (author of, amongst others, The Long Firm and The House of Rumour), the acclaimed theatre director Nick Bagnall (who staged three Henry VI plays at The Globe in 2013), and internationally-recognised scholars Professor Simon Shepherd (CSSD, University of London) and Dr Francesca Coppa (Muhlenberg College, USA).

The day will close with Leonie Orton Barnett reading some of Orton’s hilarious ‘Edna Welthorpe’ letters and other unpublished items from the archive, including a letter of complaint to Santa Claus.

For further information, see

Tickets are free. To book, email

These celebrations are accompanied by an exhibition in the David Wilson Library of material from the Joe Orton archive.  ‘Joe Orton in 1964’ runs from 2 May to 29 August 2014.


Notes to editors:

For more information, please contact Dr Emma Parker at:

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