What the Butler Saw Leicester Artists Community Response to Joe Ortons’ controversial Play What the Butler Saw at Curve Theatre 11th March 2017


On Saturday March 11th a group of artists including myself, all of us based in Leicester shared our  performances on the Curve main stage set, as part of a presentation titled What the People Saw, as a response to Leicesters’ world famous playwright  Joe Orton’s  play What the Butler Saw  (WTBS)that was playing at Curve Theatre.  This was part of a celebration to honour Joe Orton’s work, lead by Julia Thomas the RYDT Director In Residence at Curve. Julia provided information resources and helped facilitate work, that was devised, over a couple of weeks and was finally presented, as script in hand performances to an invited audience.

As a group of artists, we  were able to attend technical rehearsals, final main house productions of WTBS ( I saw a storming fantastic show!), read the script and use rehearsal facilities and importantly perform our own work, on that lovely set for the main play. Creative group meetings were held to identify  an discuss the key issues within Orton’s play, to begin to shape our own personal and collective responses. This was a very positive supportive experience, as we bonded very quickly and worked well together.

The presentation included a collection, of short humorous satirical sketches, short dramatic plays, music, physical theatre and poetry. My own contribution featured political poetry, that incorporated key political slogans, from over several decades of public demonstrations, songs about not being a bounty coconut, a dark limerick about institutional sexual abuse and celebrification, a cross dressing love poem, and a poem about lesbian burlesque and seduction in a club.

In taking on this project, I saw it as an opportunity, to take a risk, come out of my comfort zone of writing drama, to do political satire i.e. more humorous work. As well as to work with other new exciting talented artists, I had not worked with before from Leicester. It was a welcome opportunity, to work with Curve Theatre itself.  We as a group of artists were all delighted that Nikolai Foster and Julia Thomas, along with the invited audience  expressed their delight and pleasure at our work. For myself it was most satisfying to see the positive response to my own work, it  made me more confident about exploring more satire and humour. Finally, it must be said it was a wonderful opportunity provided by Curve.  My appreciation  and knowledge of Orton’s play WTBS increased tenfold, and provided  us with ample material, to inspire our own creativity in heaps!








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