‘Breaking Boundaries: Joe Orton and Me’ young people’s exhibition opens to the public

‘Breaking Boundaries: Joe Orton and Me’ young people’s exhibition opens to the public

‘Breaking Boundaries: Joe Orton and Me’ is one of three East Midlands public exhibitions about the life and work of Leicester-born playwright Joe Orton, which mark the 50th anniversary of his death.

Thanks to National Lottery players, Soft Touch Arts has been working with young people from the Saffron Lane Estate, where Orton grew up, and other parts of Leicester to produce an exhibition exploring how the life, work and legacy of Joe Orton has served as inspiration for them. The exhibition will open on Wednesday 9th August at the Soft Touch Young People’s Arts and Heritage Centre at 50 New Walk, LE1 6TF and will be open Tuesday – Saturdays 12-5pm until 8th September. The project has been made possible by a National Lottery grant of £26,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Aliyah from Sir Jonathan North Community College says: ‘This project has really helped me to feel confident in expressing my ideas and discover more about the talents of Leicester’s citizens.’

Soft Touch worked with five different youth groups who have each worked around a sub-theme to produce an item for the National Lottery funded exhibition. One example is the group from Goldhill Adventure Playground who worked around the sub-theme of ’Coming from Saffron Lane’ and have produced a board game called ‘Reach for the Stars’, using Joe Orton’s desire to succeed as inspiration for the game.

Head of Goldhill Adventure Playground Dee Dixon says: ‘It’s nice they get to know about local celebrities, past and present, and the kids appreciate the history and what goes on around here that they might be otherwise oblivious to.’

Other participating groups have been young offenders at HM Glen Parva YOI, young people at the Kingfisher Youth Centre on Saffron Lane, students at Sir Jonathan North Community College and students and young staff members of the LGBT+ group at Beauchamp College. Students from the University of Leicester have also been involved with the research and associated writing for the exhibition and the project has been supported by Associate Professor in English, Dr Emma Parker, of the university’s School of Arts, the staff at the University archives, where the Joe Orton archive is lodged, and independent curator, Malika Kraamer.

Project Co-ordinator for Soft Touch Arts, Sally Norman says: ‘Thanks to National Lottery players, this project has brought alive Joe Orton’s life and work to the participating young people and given them ideas and aspirations they might not have had before. Ten years ago we worked with a group of young people from Saffron Lane on an earlier Joe Orton project, one of those original young people has been a worker on this project using the knowledge that inspired her to enthuse the young people of today. Do come and visit the exhibition and get inspired yourself.’