Special comedy event and animated film in honour of playwright and provocateur Joe Orton

To mark 50 years since the death of Joe Orton, BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Chris Shepherd is collaborating with Dr Emma Parker from our School of Arts on an Arts Council-funded project inspired by prank letters of complaint that Orton penned using the pseudonym Mrs Edna Welthorpe.

Joe Orton (1933-1967) was a leading postwar playwright. His black comedies Entertaining Mr Sloane (1964), Loot (1966) and What the Butler Saw (1969) made him central to the Swinging Sixties. He appeared on the Eamonn Andrews Show, was photographed with model Twiggy and invited to write a screenplay for The Beatles.

On Wednesday 9 August 2017, 7pm, at the Little Theatre in Dover Street, Leicester, acclaimed actor Frances Barber will read the hilarious prank letters of complaint that Orton penned under the pseudonym Edna Welthorpe alongside new Edna letters commissioned from top comedy writers such as Jesse Armstrong (Peep Show, The Thick of It), Arthur Mathews (Father Ted) and Caroline Moran (Raised by Wolves). Chris Shepherd pays tribute to Orton through a new Edna-inspired animation starring Alison Steadman. Leonie Orton shares memories of  her brother’s comic escapades, and comedian Graham Fellows (John Shuttleworth) joins Emmy Award-winning writer David Quantick (The Fast Show, Brass Eye, Veep) to discuss Orton’s impact on contemporary comedy. You can book tickets via the Little Theatre.

Parker and Shepherd are also launching a creative writing competition that invites post-16 students to embody Orton’s mischievous spirit and write a new Edna Welthorpe letter. The competition offers students an opportunity to learn how to channel anger into humour and use satire as an alternative to hate speech. The winning letter will be read at the event on 9 August.