Actor sheds pounds for Shakespeare

20:23, Jun 10 2014
Luke Burke
DISAPPEARING ACT: Luke Burke is hitting the road to lose weight as part of his fundraising for a trip to the Young Shakespeare Company in London.

Luke Burke is literally running towards his goal to act at the Globe Theatre in London in three weeks.

Local actor Burke, 18, is hoping to be sponsored to lose weight so he can represent Nelson through the Young Shakespeare Company at the Globe Theatre in July.

He had been offered a place, with 23 others on the three-week acting course that he hopes will be a launch pad to a career on the stage.

However, he needs $8500 to take part in the course, and after fundraising, he is still just over halfway to the funds he needs to get there.

So he has decided take a pretty drastic measure to help reach his dream.

"I'm not a little guy, I am pretty big, so we are going to ask local businesses and people if they will sponsor me [to lose weight]."


So far, Burke has held a bake sale, sausage sizzle, movie night, quiz night, and performances to try to raise the funds.

He said he felt like he was "scratching at the bottom of the barrel" with funding ideas, and his mentor and family friend Paul Nelson had come up with the weight loss challenge.

He would be dedicated to changing his diet and working out, but would consult professionals to ensure his weight-loss was done safely.

He was visiting his GP today to get his weight recorded, and hoped to get help from a nutritionist and personal trainer.

He aims to lose about 20kg.

Burke would be looking to local people and businesses to sponsor him for $150 for each kg lost, for the wealth, as well as his health.

"I am active playing rugby league and acting, but I have noticed that my size gets in the way. Maybe if I can lose this amount of weight it will help me feel better and represent Nelson in a better light."

Burke is a longtime fan of Shakespeare. He has been performing the bard's plays for about six years, which "built up a love and understanding" for them.

The London placement was "a golden ticket, a tick next to my name. Next year I want to go to [prestigious New Zealand drama school] Toi Whakaari, and it's a hard thing to get into".

If he raises the funds, Luke would be at the Globe to take part in a variety of performance workshops, Q&A sessions, and behind the scenes tours.

The group will also visit Stratford-Upon-Avon, to meet the Royal Shakespeare Company.

On the final night of their three-week placement, the troupe of aspiring actors will perform a selection of Shakespearean scenes on the Globe's stage in front of the public.

He said the response of the community to his fundraising had been "amazing" so far.

"I was quite shocked about how many people have come to the table to help me out."

Nelson said he would be working alongside Burke to train and encourage him.

He said Burke would in turn inspire other young Maori youth.

Anyone who wanted to sponsor Burke can contact him at

Donations can also be made through:

The Nelson Mail