Samantha Van Der Merwe invites you to experiment with ways of surrendering control and accessing that part of yourself that lies beyond the reach of reason.

Drawing on the teachings of authors and artists who have inspired her own life, her time working with and learning from children, and sharing examples of how working in that liminal space has animated her work, Samantha shares four lessons we can all use to defend the wild within.

About the speaker

If the unconscious mind is the source of all imagination, how do we make a daily practice of communing with our wild, untamed self—venturing deep into its fairy tale forests, fishing in its boundless mythological oceans? And how do we effectively express all that we find there, in the mundane world?

Samantha Van Der Merwe is the Artistic Director of Shaking the Tree Theatre. Long interested in the synergy between theatre and visual art, and “using the architecture” around her to create a world unto itself, she strives to use the theater space as a visual artist would use a canvas, maximizing the audience’s suspension of disbelief and encouraging full immersion in the material. Entering a visually evocative space allows the audience to inhabit the world of the play even before the action begins.

Working in a non-traditional theater space offers Samantha rich opportunities both for heightening the emotional experience of the audience and for supporting key ideas contained within the play.

Her ultimate goal is to create a meaningful, intimate point of connection between the work and the audience: to inspire people to think, feel, wonder, marvel, use their courage, and perhaps even change.

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How do we stand on the edge of that vast ocean, and pull in for ourselves a most magical fish? How do we make sure that our creative and wild-hearted muse is always in the room with us when we bring a new piece of work into the world? — Samantha Van Der Merwe

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    Tami belt

    I love this talk! Thank you for uncovering a path to discover and nurture our imaginations, Samantha. Your talk reminded me of a poem I wrote years ago as friends entered motherhood and were worried about being a good parent. I tucked this poem into their baby shower gifts . . . .


    I can imagine things so wild like the uninhibited mind of an untouched child

    Before their spirit is broken by an adult’s reality their imagination can soar just like the one in me

    This cold world has broken many happy minds and placed them in a world controlled by its times

    A monetary existence of selfish acts where once you are captured you can never go back

    But I’ve escaped I set myself free I can show you what no others can see

    For beyond the time clocks and the monetary flow is an imaginary world that only children know

    So before you teach them of your knowledge so vast take a look way back deep into your past

    Just once more let your imagination run wild before you teach all you know to your child

    © Tami Belt Poetic Justice: Lessons of love, life & relationships Balboa Press

    Tami Belt