INTRODUCTION

  WHO WAS JOE ORTON?  
       

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JOE ORTON

 

John Kingsley Orton was born in Leicester in 1933 and from the age of two, lived on the Saffron Lane council estate. After winning a scholarship to RADA in 1951, he met Kenneth Halliwell, an actor and writer seven years his senior. Halliwell would become Orton’s friend, mentor, lover and, eventually, his murderer.

Between 1964 and 1967, Joe Orton contributed to an exciting working class culture that swept through the nation. A promiscuous and openly gay man at a time when homosexuality was actively persecuted by the police, Orton was the rising star of an ‘alternative British intelligentsia’.

His first stage play, Entertaining Mr Sloane, was a huge success while his second, Loot, won the coveted Evening Standard award for Best Play. However, Orton’s success as a playwright and celebrity put a distance between himself and Kenneth Halliwell that the latter found increasingly difficult to cope with.

In August 1967 Halliwell, by now suffering from severe depression, murdered Orton before killing himself. His suicide note referred to the contents of Orton's diary as an explanation of his actions: ‘If you read his diary, all will be explained …’

In his short but prolific career, Joe Orton amused audiences with his scandalous black comedies. This site explores the life and times of the man who made religion, sex and death outrageously funny.


ORTON NEWS AUTOMN 2014
JOE'S EVENING STANDARD AWARD FOR 'LOOT' IS MISSING

It is with regret we announce that the iconic Evening Standard Award that Joe was awarded for Loot (best play 1966) has gone missing.

The Orton Estate have asked for help to see if anyone has information regarding it's whereabouts. The award was last seen in 2007 at the 'Retrospective' exhibition held in Leicester. For more details see here

EVENTS
Entertaining Mr Sloane - 50th Anniversary Celebration!
In summer 2014. Leicester University, which holds the Joe Orton Archive, hosted a day of screenings, talks and readings to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first play, Entertaining Mr Sloane. Recordings of speakers at the event are now available via the University's Sound Cloud account. More details here

PERFORMANCES
JOE ORTON’S ‘FRED & MADGE’
at The Hope Theatre, Islington, this September
Fred & Madge (1959) is the first play by Joe Orton. Until now this full length play has been unseen. Now for the first time it will be staged at The Hope Theatre, a stone’s throw from Orton’s former bedsit flat on Noel Road where he lived, wrote and was murdered. See more details here

 
   
 
Image: Courtesy The Leicester Mercury   Text © Leicester City Council  

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