Keep The Home Fires Burning

Written by Teresa Burns

Keep the Home Fires Burning was originally performed in The Drawing Room of Wardown House in October 2019 to commerate the 100th anniversary of Luton's Peace Day Riots. 

We have decided to re-commission the play to be adapted for radio - perfect to pass the time during Lockdown! 

Inspired by true events.

It’s 1919. Three rioters, tell their story in the wake of the Peace Day Riots, lamenting the horrors of their past and wrestling with an uncertain future.

Full of fight, fury, joy and pathos Keep The Home Fires Burning reflects on this famous night in Luton's history and brings to life the unforgotten voices that rang out on George Street as the town hall burnt down.

The play is free to listen to and enjoy. However if you can and would like to, please consider a donation to the Trust - Thank you! 


  • Running time: 35 mins 
  • Age guidance: 12+ 
  • There is one mild swear word, themes of war and descriptions of violence. 
  • Experienced best with headphones. 

Writers note:

When Wardown House asked me to write a play for their Autumn programme in 2019, I knew I wanted to tackle the Peace Day Riots – such a momentous night in Luton’s history.

I loved doing the research for this play, more than any other I’ve written. The characters are based on real people. 28 rioters (27 men and 1 woman) were sent for trial at Bedford Assizes in October 1919 following their participation in the riot. Each rioter has a harrowing story to tell but I’ve chosen three – Arthur Barrett, Maud Kitchener and Wilfred Ovenhall and this play invites you to spend half an hour in their company.

Now in 2020, I’m proud to present Keep The Home Fires Burning as a radio play – particularly during these unprecedented times. Rehearsing over Zoom and recording the actors’ voices in isolation has made for a unique process but although separated, it’s brought us all closer together.  We hope you enjoy it.  Perhaps you’ll listen during your daily walk, over a cup of tea in the garden or feet up on the sofa – whichever way you’re listening – THANK YOU and we hope to see you in person soon.

I would also like to add additional thanks to Angela Marlow - who's voice you will hear at the end of the recording. 


Writer: Teresa Burns

Teresa is a writer, born and bred in Luton.

Teresa has regularly written plays for Wardown House Museum & Gallery since 2016 including: A Christmas Carol, Keep The Home Fires Burning, The Horrid House Tour, The Lost Letter, The Ghostly Gardener, The Secret Diary and Time Travellers. 

Other recent theatre credits include: Wild (Unicorn), Us and Them (Commissioned by the Home Office for Luton Sixth Form College), Threads (Hat Factory), Roll Credits (Rich Mix), You Obviously Know What I’m Talking About (Edinburgh Festival & Tour), Waterproof (Site-Specific). 

Teresa is currently under commission from Iris Theatre to write a female led version of Robin Hood to be presented at The Actor’s Church Covent Garden in Summer 2021. 

In 2019, Teresa won the Funny Women Award for Best Comedy Short with her comedy writing partner, Samantha Lyden. In 2014, she was shortlisted for the IMDb Script to Screen Award and won the IdeasTap Short Film Fund Award for her debut short film script The Backseat.

Teresa is also the co-founder of How It Ended, an ambitious theatre company making work with and for young people.

Director: Eva Sampson

Eva Sampson trained on the National Theatre Studio Directors’ Course and at the University of Birmingham. She was Resident Assistant Director for Chichester Festival Theatre’s 2019 season. Most recently Eva was the Associate Director on UNPRECEDENTED: Real Time Theatre from a State of Isolation (Headlong & Century Films). This major digital project will be broadcast on the BBC as part of the BBC Art's Culture in Quarantine Season.

Work as a Director includes, Wild (Unicorn), The Last Nine Months (Vaults Festival); Sticky at (Southwark Playhouse); The Tide (Young Vic); The Little Gardener (Lyric Hammersmith); The Scarecrows’ Wedding (Leicester Square Theatre); A Peter Rabbit Tale (Singapore Repertory); Rudolf  (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Decades (Ovalhouse).

Work as Staff Director includes, The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call  (National Theatre).  Downstate (National Theatre / Steppenwolf Theatre). 

Work as an Associate or Assistant Director includes Noye’s Fludde (Theatre Royal Stratford East); Twelfth Night (Young Vic) as part of the Young Vic’s Jerwood Assistant Director Programme 2018, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation; and Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas (Lyric Hammersmith, Warwick Arts Centre and Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts).

Eva Sampson is an Associate Artist of National Youth Theatre.

Wilfred: Luke Alexander

Luke Alexander graduated from ALRA on the MA course in 2017. He is currently training with the Impulse Company, and was a member of the National Youth Theatre.

Theatre includes: Tracing Grace (Theatre 503/West Yorkshire Playhouse), Orestes Re-Examined (Southwark Playhouse), Twelfth Night (Bard City),The Seagull (South London Theatre Company), Great Expectations (ALRA), The Merchant of Venice (ALRA)

Television and Film includes: Summer of Rockets (BBC), Althea (Nicely Done Productions), Innocent Til Proven (ALRA)

Maud: Helen Booth

Helen Booth studied Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham and went on to train at East 15 Acting School.

Theatre includes: Scandinavia (developed with The National Theatre, Leicester Square Theatre), The Olive Trade (Southwark Playhouse), Tails from the Stray Dog (Battersea Arts Centre), A Midsummer Nights Dream, You Obviously Know What I’m Talking About (The Roundhouse / Underbelly), Waste (Southwark Playhouse)

Comedy includes: Stand Up and Sketch shows at Soho Theatre and The Komedia, Brighton.

Film includes: I Heart Chair (Camera Shy), The Dog Thrower (Sky, directed by Jon Ronson), All Those Things (Camera Shy)

Arthur: Lachlan McCall

Theatre includes: Hayfever (E-merge), Hamlet, Richard III, The Man With The Flower In His

Mouth, Morder, Thebes, Three Sisters, Fiesco, Mary Stuart, Twelfth Night, The Robbers (The

Faction), Roseliska (Portchester Castle), 1984 (Libby Brodie Productions), The German (IWM), Sad Play, Kingdom Come (Arcola), Macbeth (RIFT), The Massacre at Paris (Rose Theatre), The Love of the Nightingale (Rough Fiction), Call to Prayer, Amanah (Southwark Playhouse), Mums, Diagnosis: Superstar (Soho Theatre), Platform Eleven, The Lord of the Flies (York Theatre Royal/Pilot Theatre), The Caravan (Battersea Arts Centre/Look Left Look Right)

Television includes Law & Order, The Man Who Saved The World, Jack The Ripper, Crimewatch, Botticelli

Film includes America 2.0, Persistence, Life Just Is, Sarajevo: Shelved Memories, Aimless

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