Extract from Joe's 1950 Diary: Entry for 2 January



Seeking fame and excitement, Orton joined the Leicester Amateur Dramatic Society, Leicester’s premiere theatre group, and two other groups; The Vaughan Players and The Bats Players.

His first taste of acting was two small roles in Richard III.

‘No need to say what tonight has been like. Wonderful. I play two very small parts, still I don’t mind.’ March 3rd, 1949

It was during this period that Orton decided on life as an actor and the idea formed that he wanted to go to The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, RADA.

‘Last night sitting in the empty theatre watching the electricians flashing lights on and off, the empty stage waiting for rehearsal to begin, I suddenly knew that my ambition is, and always has been, to act.’ April 13th, 1949

‘Have heard that Derek Crouch who plays Clarence is at RADA … But thinking on it, he’s older than me and must have been in the same position as me at 16. Am wondering if I saved at least 5 shillings a week I could go to RADA in the remote future.’ 26th April, 1949

This was to be his first and last role with the LADS, quitting after not being offered any substantial roles. While full of enthusiasm, he was regarded as a mediocre talent who lacked presence and he didn’t understand the internal politics of amateur theatre groups, where time served was often as important as talent.

Image: Courtesy The Orton Estate/Joe Orton Collection at the Library of the University of Leicester   Text © Leicester City Council / Orton Diary quotes © The Orton Estate  

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