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Digital Subscriptions > Gay Times > October 2016 > Joe Orton

Joe Orton

You’d have known if you’d seen playwright Joe Orton during the 1960s. Black leather jacket, peaked cap, white t-shirt and jeans, he cut a dash in a city over-congested with lookers. Despite nearly 50 years after his death, his style was effortlessly 21st century.

It wasn’t just his chic presence that got people talking. Orton was one of Britain’s finest dramatists. Possessed with a rare talent, the 34-year-old was set to follow in the footsteps of Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward, and would’ve done had his partner not bludgeoned him to death at the peak of his fame.

Even in 2016, Orton’s legacy remains hugely enticing, especially as his writing was spawned from a period in bondage to its past. Driven to affront the repressive morality of the era, Orton’s target was the establishment. The hypocrisy of sexual propriety a favourite taunt, Orton’s attitude was light years ahead of other dramatists of the period. Theatre’s first punk, no less.

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