Renowned animator and director Chris Shepherd has released a new short in tribute to English playwright Joe Orton, on the 50th anniversary of his death.
Yours Faithfully, Edna Welthorpe (Mrs) animates complaint letters the playwright wrote wreaking “havoc on the unsuspecting”, under his female pseudonym Edna. Joe’s pseudonym would complain about the smallest of things, using the letters as an opportunity to play pranks or even complain about his own plays.
Together with University of Leicester academic Emma Parker, Chris commissioned a collection of new letters from writers including Alex Baldwin, Jesse Armstrong (Peep Show) and Arthur Matthews ( Father Ted), to name just a few. The pair have also launched a creative writing competition “to teach young people about Joe Orton and satire,” they explain.
“It’s such an honour to be celebrating the life of Joe Orton – one of the greatest British playwrights and my comedy hero,” says Chris who animates the short in his signature collage style. “I read his plays as a teenager; his naughtiness got me giggling and I’ve been laughing ever since.” The design and animation was created under Chris’ direction with four different animators including Jocie Juritz, Tom Fisher, Hannah McNally and Martha Halliday.
Yesterday evening actors, writers and comedians joined together to celebrate Joe Orton’s legacy at The Little Theatre in Leicester. The winner of the creative writing competition was also announced as Bryony Adshead of Derby High School for her piece answering “If Joe Orton were alive today, who or what would be the object of his satire?”
You can read the commissioned letters and watch the film at the newly launched website celebrating Edna Welthorpe. “They bring out a spirit of mischievousness in me,” says Chris, “and we all need a bit of that!”
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Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.