Samara Hersch is an artist and director whose practice explores the intersection of contemporary performance and community engagement. She recently completed her Masters at Das Theatre in Amsterdam. Her current research is an exploration into public acts of intimacy through imagining new artistic frames for non-professional performers and audiences to inhabit.
Her recent body of work focuses on critical trans-generational dialogue with an enquiry into conversation as performance. These works include: Body of Knowledge, a work that invites teenagers to host conversations with adults regarding questions they have about the body and body politic (presented at BUDA, Belgium 2020, SICK! Festival, Manchester 2019, Liveworks Festival, Sydney 2019, Spielart Festival Munich 2019); Sex and Death an intimate encounter led by performers in their seventies (Festival of Live Art, Arts House 2016, Victorian Seniors’ Festival 2016, Modestraat, Amsterdam 2019), Dybbuks– a feminist conversation with the dead (Chamber Made 2018) For the Time Being a remote, inter-generational encounter (Auawirleben Festival, Bern 2020, Kammerspiele, Munich 2020, Far Fabrique, Nyon 2020, West Kowloon, Hong Kong 2021).
Some of these works have recently been adapted to remote experiences in response to the pandemic; (Sex and Death and the Internet, commissioned by Darwin Festival and Sydney Festival through the Major Festivals Initiative in 2020 and Body of Knowledge – At Home, co-commissioned by Zurich Theater Spektakel and Kampnagel Sommerfestival, 2020). Body of Knowledge- At Home was selected for Impulse Theatre Festival, Germany (2021) and has been presented at Theatre Practice, Singapore, Schwankhalle, Bremen and Brut, Vienna.
Samara regularly collaborates with artist Lara Thoms. Together they engage youth activists to explore the performance of alternate histories. Their work subverts notions of adults as experts, foregrounding the voices of young people in the retelling of national stories and identities. Their work, We All Know What’s Happening (Arts House, Melbourne 2017, Campbeltown Arts Centre, 2018, Vitalstatistix, Adelaide 2019, Noorderzon Festival, Netherlands 2019 and Theater Spektakle, Zurich 2019) won the ZKB Jury Prize and Audience Prize at Theater Spektakle, 2019 and the Green Room Award for Best Contemporary and Experimental Performance in 2017. They are currently creating a new work together called Please Stand that explores the rituals, mythology and politics of National Anthems from around the world.
Samara was mentored by Bruce Gladwin, from Back to Back Theatre Co. through the JUMP Mentorship Program (2012) and later worked as a show director on their production of Super Discount (Sydney Theatre Co. and Malthouse Theatre 2013). Samara was the Female Director in Residence at Malthouse Theatre (2013). She was a recipient of the British Council Realise Your Dream Award (2010) and the Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch Travel Fellowship (2015).
Samara is currently an artist in residence at Theatre Rotterdam and is part of the EU Network; ACT; Art Climate Transition.
Samara acknowledges that her practice has been developed and presented on the lands of the Kulin Nation whose sovereignty has never been ceded and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging.