Woman who set Star Wars’ John Boyega on road to stardom, founder of Peckham theatre, is now an MBE

A theatre’s founder who gave Star Wars megastar John Boyega his first acting break and then went on to run the venue for 33 years has been named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Teresa Early, founder of Theatre Peckham, has been awarded an MBE for services to young people in the arts.

Early, who stepped down as artistic director last summer after 33 years said: “I feel very proud to have received the accolade of an MBE in this year’s Honours, and very grateful to have had the chance to introduce so many young people and their families to the magic of theatre, and the joys of performing arts.

“After more than 30 years at the helm it was such a richly rewarding role that enabled us to lay strong foundations for Theatre Peckham to go forward into the future, and I wish them all continued success.”

John Boyega visits his old primary school, Oliver Goldsmith Primary School in London to support the new Change4Life Train Like A Jedi programme

Sioban Whitney-Low Chair of Trustees, Theatre Peckham said of the honour: “The creative case for the arts for young people is well made and Teresa Early has played a significant role in increasing and widening accessibility to performing arts opportunities for the young people of Peckham.

“It is wonderful that this has been recognised in the year in which she stepped down from the company she founded.

Teresa has helped many young people to connect and find their voices through the arts.

Now, in the beautiful building she helped to secure, young people will continue to thrive and flourish for years to come.”

During Early’s tenure, Theatre Peckham has grown into a renowned training hub which introduces thousands of young people to theatre every year, and sees its Alumni employed across the Creative Industries including Star Wars actor and Theatre Peckham Patron John Boyega.

The new theatre and studio spaces now deliver an extensive education and performance programme for young people from across inner city London. Current patrons of Theatre Peckham include Sir Ian McKellen, Jenny Agutter OBE, David Harewood MBE, Paulette Randall and John Boyega.

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