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Award-winning theatre director Rebecca Gadsby honoured by the University of Cumbria

As a visiting director, Nottingham-born Rebecca (Beck) has helped to develop the professional practices of many performance students and is passionate about nurturing the next generation of creatives. 

She has been honoured for her contribution to the development of the University of Cumbria in recent years.

Currently Associate Producer of Sheffield Theatres, Beck continues to be an ambassador for the university across the country, and also regularly employs University of Cumbria graduates. 

Beck has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Cumbria, presented recently during its graduation ceremonies at Carlisle Cathedral. 

Following the conferment of the award, Beck said: “This is not just representing my journey but represents all those who have supported me on my journey. 

“I’ve been coming here to the University of Cumbria for five or six years, so I know the staff and students. What I really love about this university is the care that it takes over each student. It feels like a family, and it feels like they are their parents and taking them through their academic journey. It is lovely to be part of that nurturing, care and creativity that you have with each student.” 

Dr Ruth Harrison-Palmer, director of the University of Cumbria Institute of Education, Arts and Society, said: “We are delighted to honour Beck and proud of the part she plays in our university community, inspiring future generations of creatives and digital artists. 

“As a university recognised for our high levels of employability and further study among our graduate population, it continues to be our mission to equip our graduates with the knowledge and skills they will require for the future careers and challenges they face in their chosen fields, including importantly creative industries, as they support our communities to thrive and prosper.” 

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Above: University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell confers Honorary Fellowship upon Beck Gadsby

Beck studied Theatre and Performance at the University of Warwick.  Upon graduating, her early work in Theatre in Education and Open-Air Theatre helped her to focus a career in directing. Since then, she has directed almost 70 full-scale theatre productions. 

Known for her signature themes within period dramas, in 2015, she directed the UK’s largest open air theatre event at Chatsworth House with a production of Pride & Prejudice to an audience of 3,000 people.  

Beck is an Associate Producer at Sheffield Theatres, the second biggest-producing house outside of London, and combines this with her experimentation into the use of digital technology in theatre. 

Beck has her own production company - Inside Theatre. For the last seven years, it has been experimenting with digital technology in the theatre, funded by the Arts Council, Innovate UK and in association with several other partners. Its aim is to inspire the next generation of theatre makers by empowering them to craft their own productions, bridging the gap between the theatre industry and young people.   

Most recently, Beck has been named among the "100 ones to watch" by the UK Creative Industries Council and, in 2022, won "Best Digital/Creative Start-Up" at the Mainframe Awards for creating the world's first immersive theatre app. The app has garnered global attention and accolades for its innovative approach and is intended to assist storytelling, fuel imaginations, and engage younger audiences.   

WATCH: Beck Gadsby on how the University of Cumbria 'feels like a family'