Teen’s eyesight poor but vision bright
A Porirua teenager with bad eyesight has shown clear vision behind the scenes of a national theatre touring company.
Whitby resident Declan Callaghan, 18, lives with vision problems that are like ‘‘looking up at the bottom of a swimming pool’’, asperger syndrome that makes the vacuum cleaner sound ‘‘like a chainsaw going through your head’’, and tourette syndrome that causes involuntary movements.
But he has a bright future in design.
Callaghan has been creating and making costumes for Ania Upstill. She is the artistic director of Wellington-based Shakespearean touring company Lord Lackbeards’ production of Hamlet.
The play is performed by an all-female cast that brings its own challenges – Hamlet is about five months pregnant.
Callaghan worked with each actor, learning how they saw their character and how he should incorporate it into the design before selecting materials.
‘‘I do some of the work by feeling, but a lot of it’s just looking at something and seeing the way the light reflects,’’ he said.
He developed an intense focus on the work, which began after a meeting with Upstill – who described him as a ‘‘talented young man’’ – on March 14.
That dedication helps keep the tourette syndrome in order, but often leaves him fatigued.
Callaghan hit headlines this year after playing a key part in getting education authorities to review a rule that stopped readerwriters from being able to type test answers – a serious hurdle for a correspondence student wanting NCEA credits.
His mother, Sharon Callaghan, works with people with special needs besides teaching her son and sewing his designs.
She said people with asperger syndrome often had great talents, ‘‘but they’re locked in because they can’t communicate’’.
Callaghan’s creative passions might be traced to his love of The Lord of the Rings. He first read it when he was 6 and, before his vision worsened, was up to 500 words a minute.
The film production of The Hobbit, along with its nine-hour production documentary, later steered him toward costume design.
The Lackbeards’ Hamlet arrives in Wellington next month.
Whitby resident Declan Callaghan, 18, has secured an internship to design and make costumes for Lord Lackbeards’ production of Hamlet.