Deaf actor and director named Distinguished Graduate
22 July 2022
An actor, theatre director, and British Sign Language (BSL) consultant for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has been named as the University of Reading's Distinguished Graduate of the Year 2022.
Charlotte Arrowsmith, who graduated from the University of Reading in 2004, received the award at a Graduation ceremony on 22 July.
Ms Arrowsmith landed her debut TV role in Channel 4 series ‘Rush’ while in her final year at university, and has since been in many TV, theatre and film roles over the years. After graduating with a BA Hons in Theatre, Arts, Education and Deaf studies, she took up a professional theatre job with Face Front Theatre Company in London.
In 2009, Ms Arrowsmith began teaching and leading workshops with Deafinitely Youth Theatre, the deaf-led professional theatre company. Between 2014-2017 she was their Youth Co-Ordinator and today she continues to work with them, and other organisations, facilitating workshops for young performers.
More recently Ms Arrowsmith has performed with the Globe Theatre and the RSC, becoming the first Deaf BSL signing actor to perform in a mainstream RSC production. In 2019, she further made history by being the first Deaf actor to perform as an understudy for a hearing principled actor in The Taming of the Shrew.
Alongside other acting and directing work, Ms Arrowsmith now provides BSL consultancy for the Globe and the RSC, supporting and guiding the interpreters for the BSL integrated shows and advising the Assistant Directors on how to creatively include interpreters within the cast. Last year she became an RSC Associate Learning Practitioner within the RSC’s education department and is also an RSC Associate Artist.
Simon Floodgate, Lecturer and Subject Leader for PGCE Drama at the Institute of Education at the University of Reading, said: “I never imagined that this young student, inspired by her delivery of a final year seminar paper on Peter Brook, would one day go on to meet the eminent theatre director himself, in the course of a career in which she continues to have such a profound impact upon the Royal Shakespeare Company and British theatre culture.
“Creating opportunities for young deaf people, opportunities which they might not otherwise have, is a strong part of Charlotte’s own ethos and she continues to teach, direct and lead workshops to this day.”