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Tuesday, February 1, 2022


(Above: Andrew Gialerakis)

Andrew Gialerakis – teacher, actor and radio broadcaster passed away in Greece on January 27, 2022. He will be remembered in Durban fondly by the many people he taught – particularly at Carmel College and the Anne Freed Theatre School.

His daughter Antonia writes this tribute:

 My dad, was a young dad.

My earliest memories of my dad are in fact of him as radio broadcaster in Durban. I remember him in an SABC recording studio acting, presenting programmes, radio "magazine articles " (such as they were back in the day) and reading the news. I remember him going up a crane in Durban harbour to interview the crane driver. I remember hearing a recording of his interview with Petula Clark, I remember him directing and acting in radio plays. I also remember him teaching broadcasting at a local drama school in Durban, run by Anne and Harold Freed. 

I also remember my dad being younger than anyone else's dad. A cup-winning hurdler at school, my dad was athletic - fit, fast and incredibly energetic. I spent a great deal of my childhood watching my father race our Great Dane across the sand dunes of Umhlanga Rocks, and, as I grew older, I spent a great deal of time racing my dad as we swam out to sea in that great Indian Ocean all of us Durbanites so loved. He taught me never to turn my back on a wave, he taught me how to navigate the big waves - he also tried to teach me how to body surf, but I never could body surf like my father could. I could never catch up with him out at sea - even in his eighties as he swam out across the Mediterranean Sea with his distinctive, smooth, strong strokes, I couldn't catch him. That was my dad. To me. 

An English teacher and then Headmaster at Carmel College, my dad clearly and lastingly demonstrated the following to me: what it means to be dedicated. What it means to be committed and totally dedicated to your work - what you give and what you gain from giving yourself entirely to the job you are there to do. I have never, in any walk of life since, encountered anyone so entirely dedicated to their professional life as my father was to being Headmaster at Carmel College. Dedicated as he was to being an Educator, dedicated to sharing his love of English literature, Shakespeare, poetry and the greatest command of the English Language anyone could ever dream of having, dedicated as he was to each and every one of his students, my dad gave himself completely and absolutely to the task of giving the very best to his students that anyone could possibly give.

I'm often told how one of my dad's greatest gifts was his ability to bring the English language to life for his students. Perhaps this was the actor in him. Just like all who knew him and/or were taught by him, I experienced my father's ability to teach and show us all what the great writers, poets and playwrights wanted us to gain from their work and how to relate what we learned to our own lives on so many levels.

As an actor, for anyone who worked with him or for him, who was produced by him or taught broadcasting by him, it is surely his voice that will stay with you in your memories of Andre Gialerakis - aka Philip Armitage - aka Drew.

Dad told me he preferred to direct rather than to act. While living in Umhlanga Rocks, he set up an Am Dram group called The Lagoon Players. Sunday nights at our house were exciting when a group of British expats, some formerly professional actors in the UK, and local actors my dad had worked with and admired, would get together in our house for a play reading of some kind. One Act plays or full-length plays - these evenings were vibrant and alive with talent, humour, and ability. Some of these plays my dad even took to the stage at what was then The St Johns Theatre in Durban.

Ever the educator, dad produced plays around text books his students were studying - including a production of Wuthering Heights which I remember as an ambitious production that met with acclaim. I believe he took a few of these plays to schools.

Candlelight theatre was always special for me. How wonderful, almost magical it seemed to me - dad and fellow actors sitting on stools reading clever, funny, catchy plays from scripts illuminated by candlelight, a curtain strung up in a little makeshift theatrical space in the lounge of one or another smart hotel in Durban. It was enchanting.

On Crete, dad and his wife Patti Slavin, continued with their theatrical work. Producing pantomimes for the local children, my dad came to life with his humour (he could be so very funny - even full of mischief at times) and even danced and sang in more than one show. Patti's set designs and costume designs were always well-received and these Pantos were a great success. Dad also produced 7 Against Thebes - a far more serious affair that was met with high acclaim - not just by the audience, but by the actors whom he directed.

Husband to Hilary Carter for +30 years, husband to Patti Slavin and father to me, my dad was a man who wanted me to tell everyone I met, once he had passed, that he had enjoyed his life to the full. That there was not one joy in life that passed him by. He wanted me to tell everyone who knew him how rich and wonderful life is and how deeply he had enjoyed every moment of it. These are the words my dad said to me late last year, while musing randomly about what people might want to know about him one day.

Having had a small driving accident, my dad, at 87 years of age, was admitted to a local hospital on the island of Crete where he lived. Whilst in this hospital, he contracted an infection of some kind which has taken him from us.

Remember him well. He touched the lives of so many in so many ways as the outpouring of messages I am receiving are showing me every single day since his passing. – Antonia Gialerakis