Featuring Katherine Castellucci

Katherine Castellucci's headshot. A white woman with long, dark brown, wavy hair is wearing three silver hoop nose rings, and two silver necklaces. One necklace is a thick chain, and the other is a thin chain with a silver heart pendant. She is wearing a hot pink, strappy top with a black lace overlay. She is looking at the camera with a stern expression.

This year at CRIPtic we’ve had the privilege of hosting the disabled performer and activist Katherine Castellucci as an intern. She joined us as a placement as part of her BA Acting and Community Theatre degree at East 15 Acting School.

It’s been wonderful to have her join the team on a few occasions and to give her a bit of a sense of what we do. Her work ranged finding rehearsal spaces and creating promotional materials and image descriptions to exploring our risk register, joining interviews and meetings with artists, and researching international connections. 

Having her support on the team has really helped us achieve a number of our aims. We’re also excited about why Katherine’s working in theatre and what’s next for her!

How did you become interested in working in theatre?

I have been acting since I can remember. It started off at amateur drama clubs, where I was just waiting for my big break as the next love interest of Zac Efron in a movie. But, as I got older, it became so much more than that. It sort of took over my life really (in a great way.) It’s the only thing I have ever wanted to spend my life doing. I trained in acting, dance, and musical theatre for years. I then enrolled at the Birmingham Ormiston Academy to pursue solely acting. Next, I studied at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts before my degree at East 15 – which is coming to a close scarily soon! I now realise the power of theatre, and I’m most interested in using it to make a change. Theatre can challenge, innovate, and empower, and that’s what I’m most passionate about. 

Where do you want to take your career next?

I am honestly not sure. I would say I want to change the world, but I have to take things one step at a time! All I know is that I want to incorporate activism and societal change into everything that I do. Creating socially and politically driven theatre will bring together both of my passions for performing and activism in a fabulous way. I would love to be a part of projects that aim to make a difference and focus on inclusivity and equality. I want to really learn the ropes of the industry, and especially how to navigate it as a disabled performer. And you never know, I might still be the next big movie star that Zac Efron falls hopelessly in love with. A girl can dream. 

What do you think the big changes coming up in the wider arts sector are? What possibilities are you excited for?

From my work with CRIPtic, I have learnt a lot about what the future looks like for the arts sector, especially within disability-focused arts. It made me excited to see the developments of disabled-led and disability-focused theatre companies and projects. I am excited about the changes regarding these projects. I think they are on the way to becoming a huge part of the industry. This opens up a great amount of opportunities for those who may not have had them previously. Some big changes are also being made in the integration of the arts into every pathway in society. Having studied Community Theatre, I have experienced the wide scope of theatrical opportunities in sectors you’d never expect to find theatre. The possibility of being able to perform in so many ways all around the world is incredibly exciting! 

What advice would you give to other emerging disabled performers, looking to get a foothold in the industry?

I would tell them to be brave. Often as disabled people, we may shy away from things because we feel we might take up too much space. We try to make ourselves as small as possible so as not to inconvenience anyone. I’d say take up all the space you want – and then some. Be unapologetically yourself, and the rest will follow. Find the areas of the industry that you’re passionate about and learn about them. Getting training at an institution isn’t necessary, but doing your research is! Make sure to specifically research what is available to you as a disabled performer.

Something I learnt about during my placement was an access rider. This is a document that outlines your access requirements and reasonable adjustments in order for you to work at your best. It is important to remember – do not be afraid to use your access rider! This will allow you to work to the best of your ability, and will encourage others to do the same. 

If you want to reach out to Katherine, she can be reached by email at castelluccikatherine@gmail.com, and her Spotlight can be found here (link).