“Lutonians are funny. They’ve got lots of stories. It’s just right for theatre, because we should be telling those stories.”
Teresa Burns is a playwright who grew up in Luton, and wants to be part of telling its stories, as she explains:
“Arts give people a voice. It’s as simple as that. When I graduated university, people were saying to me, ‘So obviously, you’re going to move to London because that’s the only way that you’ll ever make anything of yourself,’ but actually, I saw an opportunity in Luton.
“My graduation year coincided with the year that the Hat Factory opened which was a huge, exciting thing. I was offered free rehearsal space there. It was a huge leap of faith, because I hadn’t really done anything. I’d just gone to Uni and had an idea to do a play.
“If artists are willing to stay in this town and develop their work here, there’s a chance for a scene to grow, and there have been some really healthy steps in recent years in making that happen.
“You can celebrate the culture of this town, the different people that live here, the stories that people want to tell.”
“It’s so true that Luton feels like a Northern town in the South. Lutonians are funny. They’ve got lots of stories. It’s just right for theatre, because we should be telling those stories. That’s why a lot of my work is inspired by Luton. Even if I’m working with a venue in London, I tend to set the play in Luton, because it’s so rich as a place that I’m constantly reaching for it.
Luton Rising is an important funder of Culture Trust Luton, and Teresa explains why she believes its work is so important.
“The Culture Trust really is the go-to for the delivery of arts and culture in Luton, which is vital. It’s got Stockwood, Wardown, The Library Theatre, and the Hat Factory as four very different venues in Luton. All of them are very distinct in the work that they deliver.
“There’s a lot of great work and great artists that are based here that are telling stories: visual artists, writers, puppet-makers. A lot of people have left London and they’ve come up here. From an artist’s point of view, the support of the Culture Trust is invaluable because that’s your starting point to deliver any kind of activity in Luton.
“The Culture Trust is delivering national-quality work to a local audience.
“There are artists that have performed all over the world that come here and perform at the Hat Factory, and that’s amazing.”
You don’t have to go to London – it’s about delivering high-quality work that’s on people’s doorsteps. They’re able to offer something for everybody, whether it’s your grandma or it’s your kids, or anyone in-between.
“My generation grew up where the press were constantly beating down on Luton. When I went to university and said that I’m from Luton, I was insecure about it. Now, as I’ve got older, I’ve embraced its history and, working with the Culture Trust, I see that there’s a vision for the future. It’s very exciting. I’m really proud to make work here.”