Leicester

Joe Orton: Target hit for statue of 'sexual rebel' playwright

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Media captionJoe Orton: The life and work of a "social and sexual rebel"

A campaign to raise money for a statue in memory of 1960s playwright Joe Orton has hit its target.

The Leicester-born writer, who penned Entertaining Mr Sloane and Loot, was murdered by his lover aged 34, in 1967.

The statue, which has the support of Sir Ian McKellen, is planned for Orton Square at Leicester's Curve theatre.

Dr Emma Parker, a Joe Orton expert and professor at the University of Leicester, said the playwright was a "social and sexual rebel".

Dr Parker, who led the campaign, said she was "thrilled" the target of £116,616 had been reached.

"It's been wonderful to receive support from high profile celebrities like Sir Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry, Matthew Bourne, Alison Steadman, the Connor brothers and Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys," she said.

"But it's also great to see Leicester people feeling proud to get behind the appeal.

"It's so exciting. A new statue of a working class gay writer feels deeply significant."

During the campaign, Leonie Orton, who helped build the University of Leicester's Joe Orton archive, said her brother "loved the theatre" and his passion for it began in Leicester.

"Joe was the first writer ever to actually put explicitly gay characters on the stage," she said.

"If he's not remembered for anything else he should be remembered for that."

Image copyright University of Leicester Joe Orton Collection
Image caption Orton was killed aged 34

The next step will be to launch a competition for the design of the statue, the campaign said.

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