Hope Van Der Merwe is a queer British-Canadian actor, playwright, and poet born and raised in Mohkinstsis, and currently based in Tkaranto. Inherently curious, determined, and ambitious, Hope prides herself on her self-discipline, intelligence, and tenacity as an artist, creator, and human. A recent graduate of York University‘s BFA Acting Conservatory, Hope had the privilege to train under the guidance of industry professionals such as Anita La Selva, Jamie Robinson, Keira Loughran, Allyson McMackon, and Nina Lee Aquino, as well as instructors such as Eric Armstrong, Laurel Paetz, and Paul Lampert, among others. Select acting credits include playing Sofia in the Canadian premiere of Dance Nation (2023), Suzy in Love in the Time of Werewolves (2022), and Elektra in Elektra (2022), as well as playing roles like Juliet and Hedda Gabler in scene studies at York.
Also a playwright, Hope’s first play, Something Wicked premiered at York University’s 2020 playGround Festival and received a half-reading in conversation with Kate Hennig for The Canadian Plaything’s Playwright to Playwright series, sponsored by PGC’s PlayConnect program. Hope’s writing contributions to Unhushed Theatre Collective’s Swallow This Skin were also featured in Toronto Fringe’s 2021 Main Festival, and her poetry debut can be found in the 16th issue of the Temz Review.
Hope Van Der Merwe has recently become part of the Crane Creations Theatre‘s prestigious Summer Ensemble 2023 as an actor. This unique program offers aspiring artists in the Canadian theatre industry unparalleled work experience. The Summer Ensemble specifically recruits talented individuals aged 18 to 30, providing them with intensive, full-time training over several weeks. Participants not only acquire valuable skills but also gain invaluable experience in a fast-paced and dynamic environment.
Hope is now collaborating with other talented actors, including Nikolai Afanasev, Marie Barros, Reymark Andres, Sofia Farahani, Kay Vukelic, Boro Milosevic and Celine Daaboul who will together be creating an exciting and dynamic collaborative environment.
What Will Hope Gain In This Arts Job?
Artistic Skills: Explore classical and contemporary text, improvisation, and theatre around the world and their relevance and impact on art jobs and society today.
Orientation in Arts Jobs: Honest insight into professional organizations, structures and systems in place and how to navigate them successfully
Financial Skills: Budgeting and financial literacy delivered in a comprehensible and easy to understand way, tailored for theatre artists’ needs.
Leadership: Debate complex questions and develop ideas and strategies on how to build not only your career but the theatre ecosystem in Canada and Internationally.
Touring in Arts: Discover how artists around the world use international touring as a source of income, and learn how to create shows that can allow you to participate in that market.
Digital Skills: Discover how to blog/content writing can earn you additional income, and promote your work, while mastering WordPress, one of the most desired skills in today’s job market.
Hope first started acting when she took on-camera acting classes at the age of thirteen in her hometown. As she grew older, she continued to act in musicals and one acts throughout her high school career. Hope just graduated from York University’s BFA Acting Conservatory where she trained for four years in Voice, Movement, and Acting (for stage and for film). She was also a participant of Shakespeare Bash’d’s Class Bash’d in 2020 and 2023, where she refined her technique in classical acting and Shakespeare.
This is Hope’s first official paying acting job! Also a writer and a scholar, Hope has worked for York University as a theatre history research assistant since 2021. Under the direction of Dr. Marlis Schweitzer, Hope helped curate a two-day symposium called (Re)Casting Shakespeare, a project which sought to interrogate the cultural dominance of Shakespeare and the impact and legacy of his works in Canada.
About Hope. An Interview with Hope.
Where Are You From Originally? What is your favourite thing about your home town?
I’m from Alberta. My favourite thing about my home town is my dogs. Since moving to Toronto four years ago, I always look forward to visiting my family, but my dogs, in particular, because they are like my children. I have three dogs – two Labradoodles and a Bernese mountain dog and they are everything to me.
Do You Have A Favourite Book?
I have a few favourites because I am an avid reader: Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed (she is my favourite feminist scholar). Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi (the writing is exquisitely beautiful), and Boy Parts by Eliza Clark (something about female rage absolutely fascinates me). Also Circe by Madeline Miller because the story is immaculate.
What is a fun fact about you?
I was born with a British accent & am bidialectal.
What is one project you worked on that you are proud of?
I am very proud of my involvement in Dance Nation, a prominent production showcased at York and skillfully directed by Anita La Selva. I exerted tremendous effort on that project, despite not being a dancer, and dedicated myself wholeheartedly to mastering three distinct dance routines along with a ballet barre sequence. The sense of accomplishment I feel for these achievements is profound. Moreover, I am genuinely proud of the numerous artistic risks I took throughout the performance and the genuine passion and dedication I poured into the work.\