#JourneyWithMarianthe – Our very own SA Superstar !
This is our second year of following our own Marianthe Panas over the big wide oceans as she studies at ArtsEd in the UK.
Last year we did lots of journeys with Marianthe where she took us to all her favorite spots, and the time has come to find out how she is doing.
Thanks to Collett Dawson from The CoLab Network for facilitating this interview for GaloreSA.
Did you visit your family in SA for the Festive Season and if so, how did it feel seeing your family again ?
My plan for this past Christmas was to go back to South Africa and spend the holiday period there. Unfortunately, covid had other plans and the Omicron variant was discovered. If I flew to SA I would’ve had to have paid for hotel quarantine once I arrived back in the UK. My trip to South Africa was sadly cancelled, but I’m so thankful that my parents packed their bags as soon as they could and within two days of the restrictions being announced they were on the next flight out of SA. They had quite a long journey where they had to hotel quarantine in Greece before being able to fly to the UK, but once we were reunited we were so happy! I surprised them with a homemade dinner which I had prepared and we spent the whole night catching up with stories. My brother who is studying at the University of Surrey came down and spent the holidays with us as well. I planned many outings for us and we were able to explore new areas, watch shows and visit the Cotswolds! I definitely would have loved to have been back in sunny SA, but having my family with me was more than enough! I loved getting to show them where I live and experiencing a winter Christmas together!
We believe you are back at ArtsEd for your 2nd year. How is your new year going so far pertaining to studies ? What subjects are on your list this year ? How different is starting this year, after having one year under your belt?
I am currently in second year at ArtsEd… I still can’t believe I’m saying that! It honestly feels like yesterday was my first day – time is flying too fast! I definitely believe the saying that second year is the hardest because I’ve been pushing myself a lot more and feeling mentally and physically exhausted. The mental challenge is the hardest – there are days where I feel like I’m not good enough to be there or that I’m not as talented as the rest of my peers, but I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a great group of friends who continue to motivate me and lift me up when I’m down. Even though it has been a difficult year, I have also had SO much fun! I’m in a class group with some of my best friends and we are constantly laughing together and helping each other when we need it. I’ve been able to make new friends from being in a different group since first year and due to covid restrictions being lighter we are finally able to watch each other perform when we do group/solo performances.
In terms of studies, every week our dance classes consist of Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Pa de Deux (partner work) and Song & Dance. We do group acting and singing classes, private singing classes, Voice and Speech, Accents, Song Workshop, Yoga and Gym – it’s very full on which is why our days start at 8:30am and finish at 6pm! But usually we tend to stay on until later if we want to practice something so I sometimes get home around 7:30pm.
I have started this year with a lot more confidence in myself in all aspects after having one year of training under my belt. First year was all about breaking everything down and learning technique, whereas second year expands on that and takes it further. It’s really hard to measure progress on myself daily so I love it when I’ll be in a dance class and think “wow I definitely could not do that last year!” That’s when I feel the most proud of myself.
Did you make any special friends on that side that will be part of your life forever ?
They say that people come into your life for a reason – and I believe that! There are friends I’ve made here that I wonder how we only met last year? We are so close that we feel like we’ve known each other our whole lives! My best friends here are also international which is amazing! Miriana, who is from Malta, visited Greece with my family and I along with my brother and his girlfriend last Summer and we all had the best time. Miriana, Polina and I have also just booked a girls trip to Paris (eeek!) which we are SO excited about! Polina is Cypriot like me and I’m also going to visit Cyprus and stay with her for a bit which I can’t wait for because I haven’t been back to Cyprus since I was a child!
So far, you are still South African. Any plans on making this move to the UK permanent ?
South Africa will always be my home country, but I just love England and life here! I would love to stay on and live here after I graduate. I’m lucky that there are many South African stores scattered across London so I’m always able to go past and get treats that are exclusive to back home :)) I’ve even introduced my friends to products: Miriana is obsessed with biltong and Polina loves Romany Creams so much that she can eat an entire box in one sitting (haha)!
Does attending ArtsEd create any performance opportunities in the UK while you’re there? Do any industry people get to see you perform at the University?
Whilst training at ArtsEd we are limited to only doing in-school performances or anything external that ArtsEd are a part of. For example, being covid ArtsEd used to gather a choir of students to sing at the Olivier Awards which is the UK’s equivalent to the Tony Awards in America. During our training we get to perform our Song & Dance and singing, acting and dancing projects to our heads of departments, first years, second years and foundation year students. As a year group we see each other perform in Audition Class and Performance Class throughout the year.
We are very lucky to have industry professionals come in and take us for a class or work on a project with us. My friends laugh at me because I honestly become such a fan-girl when I meet them haha! It’s amazing to be so close to the industry now and get to work with choreographers/directors/musical directors so easily because it’s part of our studies! We had Lana Williams who was the assistant choreographer on Bridgerton take our Pa de Deux classes, our Song & Dance choreographer was Blythe Jandoo who has played Jasmine in Aladdin on the West End, we’ve worked with Ron Crocker who is the Musical Director of Wicked, and there are so many more incredible creatives we’ve worked with!
Bit of private talk….Do you have a boyfriend, and if so, is he based here in SA or in the UK ?
Haha I’m currently single – university takes up my entire week so when we have free time my friends and I love exploring London and visiting markets and different areas.
What recent stage productions have you watched on the West End since you’ve moved there ? What are you still wanting to watch this year? How different is it watching West End shows as opposed to shows back home?
I’m so lucky to be living in central London and finally able to see shows I only dreamed about seeing when I was living in SA! My friend and I watched Wicked (which is my dream show!), Phantom of the Opera, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, Mary Poppins, Six, Back To The Future, Witness For The Prosecution (a play set in a real courthouse) and just the other night I was invited to be Collett Dawson’s plus one to the Press Night of the musical, Broken Wings!
I am dying to watch Six again! There is an ArtsEd graduate who is an alternate in the show so I would love to watch her in it. I would also love to see Frozen and Moulin Rouge which I have heard amazing things about!
West End shows are on such a grander scale – from the props to costumes to mechanics to the set design! If you’re wanting a night out at the theatre you will not be disappointed in the quality you’ll get. I get such a full heart when the theatre is full of people. There is so much support whether you are a regular theatre-goer or not. Also just by telling you all the shows I’ve seen, you can see that there is just so much variety on at the moment! If you’re wanting to watch a play there’s about four currently on. If you’re wanting to watch a musical there’s one on every corner. The theatre industry is thriving in London!
Any special mentions to family or friends here in SA ?
There is not a day I take for granted. Living here and attending my dream drama school is all thanks to my parents! They have supported me since I was a child and continue to provide the best life for us that they can. I miss them so much, but we are lucky that communication is so easy via calling or video chats. I am incredibly lucky to have my brother living in the UK as well and I have cousins and family from my mom’s side in England too. So even though my parents aren’t here, I have family connections close to me.
What are your plans as soon as you finished on that side ?
I don’t have any immediate plans once I graduate, but hopefully I will book a job (fingers crossed!). I’ll just see where life takes me and what God has inshore for me :)):