Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry are among those backing a fundraising campaign to erect a statue of playwright Joe Orton in his hometown of Leicester.
The appeal has been organised by a committee of Orton fans in Leicester and is headed by the playwright’s sister Leonie Orton and Emma Parker, who is an Orton expert at the University of Leicester.
They are looking to raise £120,000 to design, create and assemble the statue in a prominent position in Leicester.
The design of the statue will be subject to a competition where artists will be asked to represent a likeness of the playwright “in a suitably Ortonesque way”.
Other celebrities supporting the fundraising campaign include Alec Baldwin, Kenneth Cranham and Sheila Hancock.
Baldwin said: “I have craved Orton’s writing for a long time, whether I’m sitting on stage or performing in the cast. There are no comparisons. He’s a true original. Half poet, half devil’s apprentice. I never tire of his wit, soul and anarchy.”
McKellen added: “The idea that in Orton Square there should be a statue, a memorial to Joe Orton, is terrific.”
The launch of the Joe Orton Statue Appeal will take place at Curve in Leicester on July 25. There will be a silent auction of items from the Orton archive at the University of Leicester.
Orton was born in 1933 and raised on a council estate in Leicester, with his works including The Ruffian on the Stair, Loot, The Good and Faithful Servant and What The Butler Saw. The playwright’s career was cut short at the age of 34 when he was murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell.