Carolyn Burns was born and raised in New Zealand and began an arts degree at Auckland University in 1977-78. In 1979 she left University to take up a full-time job in television journalism in Wellington, fronting a number of programs and making both political and scientific documentaries. She combined this career with writing drama for children, both in the theatre and on television. In 1982 she relocated to Christchurch, where she devised and wrote an 18-part TV adventure-comedy for children called THE RETRIEVERS. In 1983 she wrote a stage play for adults,OBJECTION OVERRULED, which was performed by all the major theatre companies in New Zealand and nominated for a NZ literary award. Victoria University Press published it in 1985.
She moved to Perth in 1984 where she worked as a freelance reporter for Nationwide ABC. She lectured in media studies at WAAPA and continued to write for children’s television (MATH’S BREAK, ABC) and for the stage (SMASH HIT, an anti drink-drive musical for secondary schools). She also worked on the TV drama series of A FORTUNATE LIFE.
In 1986 she was one of four writers selected nationwide to attend the Australian Film and Television School in Sydney. In 1987 she moved to Melbourne where she worked as a SBS World News Reporter.
In 1990 she gave up journalism and moved to Adelaide, where she worked for ABC Children’s Drama, devising and writing several series (both fictional and educational). She wrote three stage plays for children. ONCE UPON A RUBY RED (for 4-8 year olds) was commissioned and produced by Patch Theatre and toured SA and Vic. THE RED KING (a play for teenagers based on the novel by Victor Kelleher) was commissioned by the Adelaide Festival Centre and performed at the latter in 1993. And BEYOND THE LABYRINTH a musical adaptation of Gillian Rubenstein’s 1989 Australian Book of the Year) was commissioned and performed at the Adelaide Festival Centre in 1994. She also had poems, and a short story, THE GREAT DEBATE, published in an anthology for teenagers by Omnibus Books.
In 1993 she was commissioned to create a stage version of the film musical HIGH SOCIETY by the State Theatre Company of South Australia. The production toured Australia from 1993 to 1996 and had a 33-week UK tour in 1998. The STCSA then commissioned her to adapt Katharine Susannah Prichard’s novel HAXBY’S CIRCUS,which was performed at the Festival Theatre Playhouse in 1995.
She moved to Melbourne in the mid 90s where from 1996 she was one of three in-house script consultants, editors and story liners for the top rating Police drama BLUE HEELERS at Channel 7.
In 2000 she went back to University to complete her degree and since then has worked as a freelance dramaturge and script consultant. She has collaborated with stage director Simon Phillips on many projects, and did dramaturgical work onPRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT, THE MUSICAL and the new Australian version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s LOVE NEVER DIES, and DREAM LOVERS, (workshop) as well as completing another original full length play for adults, GOOD PEOPLE (a black comedy about the Iraq war) which was one of only 3 selected from more than 600 new works, and performed at the International Playwriting Festival in South London in 2009. Carolyn’s latest plays include the adaptation of NORTH BY NORTHWEST (MTC, June 2015) and working with New Zealand singer/ songwriter Tim Finn adapting classic Australian novel by Madeleine St John titled LADIES IN BLACK for the stage (QTC, November 2015).