Jack Birkett

Jack Birkett (11 June 1934 – 10 May 2010) was a British dancer, mime artist, actor and singer, best known for his work on stage as a member of Lindsay Kemp's theatre company, and in the films of Derek Jarman. He was often billed as Orlando or The Incredible Orlando. Most of his best-known work was done when he was totally blind. He was born in Leeds. His mother came from a Romani family; his father left home when he was six. Birkett attended Coldcotes School in Gipton until the age of 14, developing a passion for ballet. He worked as an artist's model for David Hockney and others, before finding work at the Grand Theatre in Leeds in 1950 as a stage hand and lighting technician. Soon afterwards, he moved to London, working as a dancer and singer in touring shows and musicals, including the UK tour of Oklahoma! in 1952. In 1956 he met Lindsay Kemp, when they were both doing ballet classes with Marie Rambert at the Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate. According to Kemp, "We were always scraping a living in those early days, often working as stage hands, cooks and cleaners. Sometimes we hitchhiked from venue to venue, carrying our costumes and props.


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