Actin’ Up! With Sanzia and Myah
From a young age Sanzia Pearman and Myah Bridgewater knew they wanted a career in the arts.
Camps and programmes in schools abroad moved them along that path but their thoughts always returned to Bermuda and how they might help young people with similar interests who did not have the same opportunities.
This summer they are offering Actin’ Up! Theater Camp for students between the ages of 9 and 14 with help from Abimbola Bademosi and Shadae Lee as music directors.
“We want to give students equal access to all aspects of musical theatre, and theatre in general,” Myah said. “So they'll be taking dance classes, acting classes. They'll be doing singing as well as other workshops that cover the realm of theatre.”
The three-week camp will be held at Warwick Academy from July 4 to 22 and will conclude with a performance of The Little Mermaid.
From the writer to the lyricist, to the composer to the producer, there are so many steps taken to reach the final product, Sanzia added.
“What people always see is the end product and there's so much that we've learnt throughout our ten years of doing this; there's so much that goes on behind the scenes that people don't understand,” she said.
“I feel like to be a good artist, you need to know how you got here. Knowing all that made us have a much deeper appreciation for the art that we do now and I think that's so important – along with obviously teaching them how to sing, dance and actually put on a show.”
Now 20, she started lessons with In Motion School of Dance at the age of two.
By the age of 14 she “decided to take theatre more seriously” and enrolled in Walnut Hill School for the Arts, a boarding school in Massachusetts with a “programme for passionate young artists”.
“This is where I learnt most of the stuff that we’re reteaching here. I was a stage manager; I had to do lights; I was a producer …. I did everything as well as also performing on stage, which was very cool. And so that's mainly where we're grasping from.”
Sanzia is now at Spelman College where she is pursuing an undergraduate degree with a major in musical theatre and a minor in education.
“I’ve built connections – which is great. I could reach out to so and so, who taught me my sophomore year at Walnut Hill and they would be able to put me in contact with a director – so that's how going to these places kind of works in your favour. By the time I graduate in 2024, I will have this foundation; people who know me and like me and are willing to put me in contact [with people in the industry].
“So that's also what we're trying to do at this theatre – set them up with people who have done it already or who are in the industry. I feel like that's what's missing so heavily in Bermuda – musical theatre. I'm sure there's kids like us who want to do it but don't know how. We had to go digging for this information because there was no one before us who really did this seriously.”
Myah added: “We understand that not everybody has the opportunity or the financial support to be able to go overseas and do all of these things that we did. And so it's really important that we bring it back home.”
So they are offering a scholarship to make the camp “accessible to everyone”. Details can be found on the Actin’ Up Instagram page.
Now 19, she also started dancing at “a super young age” and joined Walnut Hill for the opportunities it offered in musical theatre.
“I just felt like in Bermuda there wasn't a balance between both arts and academics. And that was really important to me, because I'm very academic but I'm also very artistic and Walnut Hill had that. And I also knew that I wanted to pursue a career in acting; I wanted to get my BFA so I wanted to be somewhere that was able to set me up for that and I did exactly that.”
At the University of Michigan she is pursuing a BFA in acting “with a minor in performing arts management and education for empowerment”.
“For seven summers before this summer – this is my first summer off – I was at Stagedoor Manor, which is a performing arts camp in upstate New York. Sanzia was also there for a few years with me.
“That was also a really big inspiration for wanting to bring this camp home. It’s also a three-week process and they equipped me with a lot of tools. And that also inspired me to push myself to do this camp; to step up into this leadership role.”
Sanzia and Myah were similarly motivated by her time at Camp Broadway, where she met many actors behind the scenes during visits to Broadway shows.
“My sister is a professional dancer in New York. She was just progressing so well in her dance career that I didn't want to be [in her shadow],” Sanzia said.
“I knew I loved the arts and I knew I liked musicals and that's why I went to theatre. [Initially it was] to separate myself from her and then I ended up falling in love with it.
“It was really nice because Myah fell in love with it around the same time as me and then we kind of held each other's hands through this long process. There's photos of us – we were literally ten years old – in New York wearing Camp Broadway shirts with big smiles. And now you see a photo of us in New York at this age with those same big smiles, with the same light in our eyes.”
For more information: actinup_bermuda on Instagram; actinuptheater.com; firstname.lastname@example.org