Joe Orton’s plays retyped onto single sheet of paper to commemorate 50th anniversary of his death

Performance artist Tim Youd retypes Joe Orton’s complete plays on Orton’s typewriters.

Tim Youd performing at the University of Leicester in 2015

Tim Youd performing at the University of Leicester in 2015

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Leicester-born playwright Joe Orton, performance artist Tim Youd will retype his Collected Plays on a single sheet of paper. He started on January 20 and will finish on February 5, 2017.

Youd will perform at the South Library in Islington and the Queen’s Theatre in the West End – both locations significant to Orton’s life and work and the Museum of Contemporary Art in London.

With his partner Kenneth Halliwell, Orton redesigned books stolen from Islington Library – a crime that led to 6 months in jail – and his final play What the Butler Saw premiered at the Queen’s Theatre.

 

Youd will finish his performance at the opening of an exhibition of art inspired by Orton’s life and work at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in London on, February 5, between 2:00 – 4:00pm.

The exhibition, titled What the Artist Saw, is curated by Dr Emma Parker of the University of Leicester School of Arts and Michael Petry, Director of MOCA, London.

Joe Orton's, typewriter, (Courtesy Leicester City Council/The Orton Estate)

Joe Orton’s, typewriter, (Courtesy Leicester City Council/The Orton Estate)

Youd is using the same typewriter as Joe Orton: an Adler Tippa (for the first six plays) and then – because Orton bought a new typewriter in April of 1967, shortly before his death – an Adler Universal 40, for What The Butler Saw.

Dr Emma Parker

Dr Parker, who worked with Tim to organise the event, said: “The typewriter played a central role in Orton’s life: he typed his plays, letters and diaries and his typewriter was responsible for his arrest for the defaced library book covers (police matched the type on a letter to that on the altered dustjackets).

“Given this, Tim Youd’s imaginative, thought-provoking performance is an apt homage to Orton and a wonderful way to bring new audiences to his work 50 years after his death.”

Tim Youd added: “I met Orton scholar Dr Emma Parker in Leicester two years ago, when I was retyping Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim at the University. Emma introduced me to Joe’s sister, Leonie (and Victoria sponge!).

“When Emma invited me to participate in the exhibition, I eagerly agreed to type all the plays in one extended performance. Emma then arranged the South Library venue and Michael set up the Queen’s Theatre. And now it’s happening.”

Portrait of Joe Orton by Lewis Morley, 1965

Portrait of Joe Orton by Lewis Morley, 1965

Tim Youd is engaged in the retyping of 100 novels over a ten-year period. He retypes each novel on the same make/model typewriter in a location charged with literary significance specific to the subject novel.

Each performance is a multi-day, often multi-week event and each novel is retyped on a single sheet of paper, backed by a second sheet, run repeatedly through the typewriter.

To date Youd has retyped 48 novels at various locations in the United States and Europe.


Performance date and times:

♦ January 20 – Islington South Library, London (12 noon – 4:00pm, with a lunch break between 1:00pm – 2:00pm)

♦ January 21, 23 & 25 – Islington South Library, London (10:00am – 4:00pm, with a lunch break between 1:00pm – 2:00pm)

♦ January 26, 27 & 31 and February 2-3 – Queen’s Theatre, London (1:00pm – 5:00pm, with a lunch break between 1:00pm – 2pm)

♦ Museum of Contemporary Art, London, February 5, 2:00pm – 4:00pm

For further information about the exhibition What the Butler Saw: Art Inspired by the Life and Work of Joe Orton, click here:

To read more about Tim Youd’s performance at the University of Leicester in 2015, click here: 

 

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