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In memoriam: Sam Bogaerts

It is with sadness that we learned that theatre maker, theatre director and actor Sam Bogaerts suddenly passed away last week.

Sam studied elocution at the end of the 70s at the Royal Conservatoire in Antwerp, where he got acquainted with the drama class of Dora van der Groen, which included the young Lucas Vandervost, Warre Borgmans and Johan Van Assche. Together they received movement lessons from Lea Daan, among others. Even after Sam left for the Brussels Conservatoire to take drama lessons from Jan Decorte, the connection with the Antwerp actors remained. Sam and Lucas founded a prize-winning cabaret duo and in 1980 they founded Het Gezelschap van De Witte Kraai together with Warre Borgmans, Johan Van Assche and Ludo Busschots. An interesting career followed, during which Sam founded several structures and worked together with numerous colleagues.

As a drama teacher he also made an important contribution to the development of the Flemish drama landscape. From 1989, with Johan Van Assche as coordinator of the Antwerp drama training, Sam Bogaerts was a guest lecturer for the acting classes and remained so until 2020, with as break his period as head of the drama training at the KASK (2005-2013). Two of the current staff members of the drama programme (Sara Deroo and Clara van den Broek) were taught by him.

In his student days, Sam was known as an 'enfant terrible' and he has never lost that rebellious character. His self-willed view of the stage has inspired many. He emphasized 'being present' on the stage, without scene and without performance pressure. He made the connection between life and play. To him, playing was really playing: having fun and being free like a child. Sam also had a great awareness of form: playing is making theatre. That too characterizes his legacy with countless young people whom he gave the confidence to 'be' on stage and to communicate through play. In his lessons, he often worked with wordless improvisations, which he steered with his choice of music, without being too compelling. Characteristic was his generous smile in the stands, the visible pleasure when watching actors.

He gave so many the courage to fail on stage, as an opportunity for free play.
Many will miss his warm personality, quirky outlook and supportive presence.