Luton playwright wins bursary to focus on new play about town's history

A Luton playwright has been awarded a prestigious bursary as she works on an exciting new play about her hometown.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 8:20 am
Playwright Teresa Burns is developing an exciting new play about Luton's industrial heritage
Playwright Teresa Burns is developing an exciting new play about Luton's industrial heritage

Teresa Burns is a co-founder of independent theatre company How It Ended, as well as a budding comedy writer.

Last week, it was announced that she was among 33 rising stars in the world of theatre to be awarded a bursary from charity MGCfutures, in order to focus on their upcoming projects.

A thrilled Teresa told Luton News: "This was such a lovely surprise and I feel very privileged!

"In our line of work, we're always encouraged to apply for grants and bursaries - but you never know if you'll hear back - especially when it so competitive.

"This will help me focus on my writing and use that creative part of my brain without being distracted for a while!"

A former Cardinal Newman and Luton Sixth Form pupil, Teresa is drawing up plans for a community-led play about Luton's industrial past, which she plans to develop over the next year.

Teresa said: "I'm really interested in Luton's hat trade and the Vauxhall factory, and how it brought so many different people to Luton - all with wildly different tales to tell.

"My own dad came over from Northern Ireland in the 1970s to work for Vauxhall and earn a living.

"There was a huge amount of immigration into Luton at that time and although it's a broad starting point, it feels like it's an important one.

"At the moment, I'd describe myself as head writer but what I really want to do is hear other people's stories and find a way to draw them into the storytelling."

Community plays can have as many as 100 people on stage, and can be performed in schools, community centres and outdoors, as well as in local theatres. Teresa also hopes to give interested volunteers a chance to gain hand-on experience working on a theatre production.

And as a comedy writer, she believes humour will inevitably weave its way into her play.

"I'm not self-consciously writing a comedy," said Teresa. "But I think Lutonians are so funny with their stories, that we will have a few laughs for sure!

"It's also often said Luton is like a northern town that's somehow ended up in the south. I think there's some truth in that!

"As for dates, I expect this will take me about a year to develop.

"I've been in touch with the Culture Trust and they are very much aware of this play, but there are still a lot of factors to think about. It will be at least a year before it happens."

> Founded in 2013, MGCfutures is a charity designed to support the next generation of theatre talent.

Its bursaries programme was launched in 2016, and reaches out across the UK to seek the very best creative talent showing a commitment to their chosen career. Applicants can apply for bursaries of up to £5000.

MGCfuture founder Michael Grandage said: “This year, it feels more vital than ever before to support and nurture the theatre makers of the future and to create new work by offering them money, time and mentorship.

"We’re grateful to the Theatre Community Fund, whose generosity has enabled us to award our largest ever number of bursaries in honour of the fifth anniversary of the scheme.”