Joe Orton: 50 Years On

Entertaining Mr Sloane

A 50th Anniversary Celebration

Joe Orton (1933-1967) was one of the most original and important playwrights of the post-war period. As Orton was born in Leicester and the University holds the Joe Orton Archive, the School of English hosted a day of screenings, talks and readings to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first play, Entertaining Mr Sloane.

In its day, Orton’s satire on social and sexual hypocrisy ignited controversy. Sloane was the Summer sensation of 1964 and was described by the London Evening News as ‘a real shocker’. However, it went on to win the London Critics’ Play of the Year award. Fellow writer Terrence Rattigan declared Sloane ‘the most exciting and stimulating first play’ that he had seen in ‘thirty (odd) years’ and Tennessee Williams hailed it as the funniest play he had ever seen.

Leonie Orton Barnett, novelist Jake Arnott, director Nick Bagnall and critics Professor Simon Shepherd (The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama), Professor Francesca Coppa (Muhlenberg College, USA), and Dr Emma Parker (University of Leicester) took part in a day of special events to mark Sloane's 50th birthday.

The day commenced with a screening of the 1968 black and white ITV Playhouse production of Entertaining Mr Sloane, starring Sheila Hancock and Edward Woodward.

There was also an opportunity to see material from the Joe Orton archive, which is held at the University of Leicester.

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