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News: Wallace and Gromit producer funds new theatre scholarship at Durham University

 Wallace and Gromit producer funds new theatre scholarship at Durham University

The co-founder of the animation studios behind Wallace and Gromit is to sponsor a new theatre scholarship at Durham University, it is announced today.

David Sproxton, co-founder of the Academy Award-winning Aardman Animations, is offering a scholarship totalling up to £16,000 over four years to help a prospective student who has exceptional potential in the technical aspects of theatre but lacks the necessary funds to make their creative vision a reality.

David Sproxton pictured at Durham Cathedral when
he received an honorary degree from Durham
University in 2008, with his characters Wallace and Gromit

Mr Sproxton, whose company has also produced Shaun the Sheep, Morph and many other animated favourites, was a student at Durham University and wants to support the next generation develop skills outside their academic discipline.

The scholarship will support the living costs of a student with a passion for the technical aspects of theatre. It offers the opportunity to get involved in every aspect of theatre production and stagecraft – to be part of a community of fellow theatre-makers at Durham Student Theatre, guiding them in a wide range of skills involving lighting, sound, projection, stage management, set and costume design and video production.

The scholarship is worth up to £4,000 per year for the next four years. Applications are open now to prospective students planning to start a degree at Durham in October 2021.

Mr Sproxton said: “It doesn’t take much to give someone an opportunity to help develop a skill that might otherwise lie dormant. I was of a generation of students which didn’t need to worry about funding their way through university, we were given grants. It’s all very different now, so supporting a student allows them to more easily pursue an interest outside their academic studies without financial worries. 

You never know where that interest might lead them, but it’s certainly worth giving them support and encouragement to start on what could be a very exciting journey.”

Durham has one of the most exciting student theatre scenes in the country, with over 30 theatre companies producing over 100 shows a year to the delight of a wide range of audiences.

Student technician Anna Bodrenkova, part of the Durham Student (DST) Executive Committee, said: “I’m so happy that the scholarship will make getting into tech accessible for more people, and will give successful applicants the freedom to focus on what really interests them within DST Tech.

“The community has always been eager to teach new members, so I think it’s important that the new scholarship will value enthusiasm over experience.”

Many Durham Student Theatre productions are staged in the flagship, recently refurbished and award-winning Assembly Rooms Theatre where David Sproxton spent much of his time as a student at Durham University.

Speaking about the Assembly Rooms, he said: “I learnt so much in this place; working as team, taking a brief, giving a brief, even taking an electricity meter reading! But fundamentally, I could explore my deep interest in putting emotion and character into scenes using light, colour and shade. 

This is the core of what a cinematographer does and that’s what I really wanted to become.

What I learnt in this theatre I fed into the film-making processes at Aardman; using lighting to enhance the drama and emotion of a scene.  Looking back, I realise I was fortunate to be thrown in with a bunch of ambitious and infectiously enthusiastic people. I hope it continues to have such a positive impact on people’s lives for many decades to come.”

This scholarship forms part of the Durham Inspired scholarship programme, to widen access and support those from lower household incomes be inspired to reach their potential.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 28 February. For more details and to apply, visit

Photo: Magda Osinska.

All images used with permission from Aardman Animations Ltd.

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