The Deaf community is in mourning following the death of actor Vitalis Katakinas, who passed away on Saturday, 6th July.
Katakinas died one week after suffering a serious injury in an incident outside a pub in North London after BSL Pride Day. He was just 34 years of age, and leaves his son, Gabrielis, and his fiancée, Lina Cankas.
Since his death, numerous tributes – both written and signed – have been posted online, from both those who knew him and those who had seen him perform.
The tributes have told of a man with many qualities – who was a loyal friend, took real joy in life, had a gift for making other people smile, and signed beautifully, both when acting and when performing BSL poetry. Many have talked of his sense of fun and mischievous sense of humour.
Katakinas was from Lithuania, and counted among his many interests basketball, motorbiking, attending Deaf events, and performing. By all accounts he was tireless in supporting other people across different areas of his life.
He will be remembered by many in the British Deaf community for his sparkling performance in Deafinitely Theatre’s hit production of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost one year ago, in the summer of 2012.
Katakinas first appeared for the company in the 2011 Deafinitely Creative showcase of short plays by new Deaf writers. The same year, he starred in The Boy and the Statue, the company’s first production aimed at young children and families.
In 2012, he joined the Deafinitely Creative scheme and wrote his own play, a visual comedy called Absence in Time about a couple who are separated when the man goes to London to work.
Before arriving in London, Katakinas spent time living and performing in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he inspired the local Deaf community, and as with everywhere else he lived, made lasting friends.
Our thoughts are with Vitalis’s family and friends. Rest in peace.
On stage photos from Love’s Labour’s Lost by Simon Annand.
By Charlie Swinbourne, Editor