Samara Hersch is a theatre maker, director and teaching artist 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, particularly through imagining new performative 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 // performance as conversation. These works include: Sex and Death, Body of Knowledge, Dybbuks and For The Time Being. Some of these works have recently been adapted to remote experiences ( 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 in 2020). For the Time Being, was commissioned by Auawirleben Festival in Bern in 2020 and is an extension of Body of Knowledge, creating alternate platforms for remote and inter-generational encounters of intimacy, listening and care.
Samara regularly collaborates with artist Lara Thoms where 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 and reimagining of national stories and identities. Their work, We All Know What’s Happening won the Green Room Award for Best Contemporary and Experimental Performance in 2017 in Melbourne and was the recipient of the ZKB Patronage Prize and Audience Prize at Theater Spektakle Zurich in 2019. They are currently creating a new work together called Please Stand that explores the history, mythology, rituals and politics of National Anthems from around the world.
Samara was mentored by Bruce Gladwin, from Back to Back Theatre Co. through the JUMP National Mentorship Program and later worked as a show director on their production of Super Discount (Sydney Theatre Co. and Malthouse Theatre 2013). In 2015 Samara was a director in Residence at Malthouse Theatre, and a member of the Melbourne Theatre Company Women’s Director’s Program. She was also a recipient of the Australia Council for the Arts, Artist in residency program at City of Melbourne Arts and Participation. As a teaching artist Samara has worked as a guest lecturer in Performance Studies at AHK, Amsterdam, Deakin University, Melbourne Monash University, Melbourne and has facilitated workshops at St Martins Youth Arts Centre, Back to Back Theatre of Speed and Access Inc. In 2010 Samara was a recipient of the British Council Realise Your Dream Award and in 2015 was a recipient of the Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch Travel Fellowship.
Samara is currently an artist in residence at Theatre Rotterdam and is part of the EU Network; ACT – Art Climate Transition.
Samara works and lives between Naarm (Melbourne) and Amsterdam. She acknowledges that her practice has been developed on the lands of the Kulin Nation whose sovereignty has never been ceded and pays respect to elders past, present and emerging.