Joe Ortons celebrated play Loot to be explored 50 years after premiere

A two-day celebration of Joe Orton's Loot organised by a University of Leicester academic marks 50 years since the London premiere of his ‘comedy of horrors’.

The University – which houses the Orton Archive - is holding three events at the end of September to mark the anniversary of the Leicester writer's anarchic black comedy. Originally called Funeral Games, the play features some of theatre’s most unusual props: a coffin, a glass eye and a set of dentures.

The first of the three events, organised by Reader in Post-War and Contemporary Literature Dr Emma Parker, takes place on Saturday 24 September in the David Wilson Library, where actor Kenneth Cranham will unveil a new interactive exhibit curated by Natasha Barrett and Ceciel Browuer of the School of Museum Studies. The centre piece of the exhibit is a special clay pot made by ceramicist Rachel Barnett, Orton's niece, to commemorate her uncle’s work.

That evening, Kenneth Cranham will also appear at Curve theatre, in Rutland Street, to share memories of his unique relationship with Orton and look back on roles in cult TV shows such as Shine on Harvey Moon and Rome, films including Hellraiser II, and - most recently - Florian Zeller’s play The Father, winner of three Moliere Awards.

Finally, on Sunday 25 September, at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, a series of talks by Orton's friends, fans and family will offer new insights into Loot.

Talks will be accompanied by a small exhibition of material from the University of Leicester’s Joe Orton Archive, including scripts and personal letters.

Among the contributors is Braham Murray, formerly Artistic Director at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, who will discuss working with Orton on revisions of Loot after it flopped in 1965.

Nonetheless, the 1966 version of Loot went on to win the prestigious Evening Standard Award and confirmed Orton’s reputation as a major writer.

Updates can be found on Twitter: @JoeOrtonWriter

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  • Press release
  • Further information on ‘Joe Orton’s Loot: 50 Years On’
  • Events to mark the 50th anniversary of Orton’s death in 2017