Create NSW caught up with Kristi following her internship with the Sydney Theatre Company (STC) working with the costume department to hear what she took away from the experience.
Kristi Archer, Sydney Theatre Company Creatability Intern
Delivered in partnership with Accessible Arts, the Createability Internship Program is designed to develop strong career pathways into the arts and screen sector for NSW artists and practitioners with disability. Kristi is among dozens of talented recipients for whom the program has proven to be both rewarding and life-changing.
Tell us about your Creatability experience. What was a typical day like for you as an intern?
A typical day at Sydney Theatre Company for me varied wildly depending on where we were at in terms of show production.
Before a show opens to the public, the workroom is buzzing with people making final adjustments and repairs. I spent a lot of time hand sewing and doing emergency repairs as well as labelling and pressing costumes so they’re ready to go on stage.
In between shows, it’s a lot quieter and I worked to help reorganise the stores of fastenings, finishes and accoutrements as well as some less urgent repairs and learning some tips and tricks from some of the most talented costumers in the industry.
Was there anything that surprised you during your Createability Internship?
What surprised me the most during my internship was how welcoming and supportive everyone was. They took the time to teach me and had the patience to help me when I needed it.
The whole crew there are the loveliest people to work with and I genuinely feel honoured that I had this opportunity to work alongside them.
You are passionate about costume design. How did this interest develop?
I started sewing at 4 years old and was guided in my passion by my mother and my Nan who fostered my love for working with my hands.
I loved dressing up from a very early age. The idea that different clothes can create completely different characters just fascinated me. When I watched movies and TV shows, the costumes were one of the first things I noticed.
Studying textiles and creating wearable art in High School kept my passion going and then I was fortunate to be accepted into NIDA and TAFE to study costume.
Has the experience given you any ideas about what you want to do next?
Having the opportunity to work at STC has definitely reaffirmed that costume is where I am meant to be.
I don’t know what the future holds for me but if I could work in the industry in any capacity it would really be living the dream.
I will continue to learn and create, and when my health gets a little more stable I really hope to be able to pursue work in costume in some capacity.
What has the internship meant for you?
My disability has taken so much from me but through this program I have regained a sense of worth and self-esteem that I didn’t think I could ever get back. The whole experience has broadened my horizons immensely. Deciding to apply for the Createability program was the best decision I’ve made in years.
How do you think the industry can become more inclusive of people living with disabilities?
One of the main reasons I haven’t been able to work in the industry was the lack of flexibility in work hours as well as a general expectation that staff should “push though” no matter what – which is not a healthy attitude for anyone, especially for people with health issues.
To make the industry more accessible a bit of flexibility, compassion and understanding would go a long way. There seems to be a misconception that if someone has a disability the accommodations needed for them to be able to work aren’t worth the extra effort. This completely ignores the fact that people with disability have a lot to offer.
People with disabilities should never be seen as ‘less than’ just because we have certain limitations or differences, sometimes those very things give us knowledge and unique perspective that can be invaluable to an employer willing to give us an opportunity.
Image: Kristi Archer Createability Intern at Sydney Theatre Company, 2023
Published: 17 May 2023