With the end of the Sydney Festival 2021, the tenure of the mercurial, wonderful Wesley Enoch as its Artistic Director has finished.
Appointed in early June 2020 the new Artistic Director is Australian curator and producer OIivia Ansell. Ansell came to the role after two and a half years as Head of Contemporary Performance at Sydney Opera House.
At the time Sydney Festival Chair, David Kirk MBE said:
“Sydney Festival is delighted for Olivia to take the artistic reigns as Festival Director in 2022. Having conducted an extensive global search that unearthed a number of high-calibre candidates for the role, it was incredibly pleasing to appoint someone with the breadth of experience that Olivia brings. We have no doubt that her creative insight and deep passion for Sydney will shape the festival’s next evolution in a way that is sure to thrill our audiences.” Continue reading SYDNEY FESTIVAL’S NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR : OLIVIA ANSELL→
Sydney Festival has unveiled its thought-provoking program of talks, panels and workshops, partnering with The Walkley Foundation, Sydney Writers Festival and UTS to present some of the country’s most celebrated and incisive journalists, writers and thinkers, adding to the already announced 2021 line-up of more than 140 events across three weeks from January 6 – 26.
A series of one-hour biographical portraits of Walkley Award-winning or recognised journalists, Walkleys Live: The Journalist Gene at the Town Hall will see each exploring the national and international context of their work, their influences and inspirations, and the professional drive, courage and values that sustain their reportage.
Recently announced 2020 Gold Walkley Award-winner Mark Willacy headlines the series discussing his unflinching Four Corners investigation “The Killing Field” which, along with his continued coverage, exposed shocking alleged war crimes and cover-ups within the ranks of SAS soldiers operating in Afghanistan, and triggered an investigation by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force. Continue reading SYDNEY FESTIVAL 2021 TALKS PROGRAM ANNOUNCED→
Surrounded by 250 Aboriginal flags symbolising Captain Cook’s arrival 250 years ago, The Vigil took place on the eve of Australia Day with some people staying until the dawn of 26th January.
After a parade of elders into the campfire site, the large crowd was welcomed with a Shark dance.
Aboriginal poet and dancer Dan Singleton in verse and movement gave a powerful outline of indigenous suffering and determination to physically and culturally survive.
At several stages in the performance Singleton called on the audience to raise their hands to show their agreement and affirmation of his sentiments.
The Artistic Director of the Sydney Festival Wesley Enoch who that day had received an Order Of Australia also spoke powerfully on the themes of suffering and survival and these ideas were echoed in the songs of Dan Sultan which kicked off a night of entertainment and dance with Archie Roach on the list of performers.
Featured image : A Shark dance. All pics by Ben Apfelbaum.
SYDNEY FESTIVAL 2018 Director Wesley Enoch is infectious. Infected by the love of ideas, performance and ‘better angels’. Enoch says of next year’s festival, “Artists are here creating more and more ways of celebrating our better angels and questioning the things that are holding us back.” Continue reading SYDNEY FESTIVAL 2018. Dairies out …go!→
A very exciting and vibrant discussion chaired by Fenella Kernebone who led the panel of Rachel Healy (Adelaide Festival) and Wesley Enoch (Sydney Festival) and Fergus Linehan (Edinburgh International Festival) and asks why we put on festivals, what they offer artists and communities, and dives into future festival trends both locally and internationally.
To begin with, a bit of background in regards to each of the panellists.
Wesley Enoch has been a theatre director and writer for over 25 years specialising in Aboriginal Theatre and cultural stories. He has been the Artistic Director of companies including Queensland Theatre Company 2010-15, Ilbijerri 2003-06 and Kooemba Jdarra 1994-97, as well as the Festival of Pacific Arts – Australia in 2008 and 2012. Wesley has been appointed the Director of Sydney Festival for the period from 2017 to 2019.
The 2017 Festival features 150 events, almost half of which are free. The Festival’s program was recently unveiled by Wesley Enoch, the Festival’s new and first indigenous Artistic Director at the State Theatre on 26 October 2016.
Big ticket items include UK theatre company Cheek by Jowl’s production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, staged in Russian with the Pushkin Theatre Company, and, The Beach, an installation with one million recyclable balls at the Cutaway at the Barangaroo Reserve.
The Festival will also feature performances by Nick Cave and P.J. Harvey.
Wesley Enoch’s first Festival includes an extensive program of indigenous arts. A feature event will be Bayala -LETS SPEAK SYDNEY LANGUAGE which features classes led by Darug woman Jacinta Tobin and Gadigal man Joel Davidson.
The Festival First Night at the Domain will not be held but an increased number of free events will be held in the Festival Village in Hyde Park North.
Both Symphony Under The Stars and Opera Under The Stars will be held twice, once in the Domain and the second performance at Parramatta Park.
This Western Suburbs inclusion features Circus City, a program of shows, workshops and free events in Parramatta.
In Campbelltown there will be an exhibition of Deathrow paintings by convicted heroin smuggler Myuran Sukumaran who was executed in Indonesia in 2015.
The Sydney Festival runs from January 7 to 29, 2017.
This second passionate and inspiring discussion, part of the current Culture Club forum series, saw Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Stephen Page and Sydney Festival’s next Artistic Director Wesley Enoch in conversation with Caroline Baum about contemporary cultural moments relying on traditional myth and storytelling.
Caroline Baum, elegantly dressed in black, is a former producer of the ABC Radio National Arts Today program, the founding editor of Good Reading magazine, features editor of Vogue Australia and is currently editorial director of Booktopia.
Sydney Festival has announced that Wesley Enoch as the incoming Festival Director for a three-year tenure from 2017-2019. He will take the reins from Lieven Bertels, who completes his term in 2016, marking the Festival’s 40th anniversary.
Wesley is currently the Artistic Director of the Queensland Theatre Company (2010-15). He has been the Artistic Director of Kooemba Jdarra in Brisbane (1994-97) and Ilibijerri in Melbourne (2003- 04), Resident Director for Sydney Theatre Company (2000-01), Associate Artistic Director of Belvoir (2006- 08), a Trustee of the Sydney Opera House (2003- 2011) and a director of the Indigenous section of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.
He has directed six projects for Sydney Festival over the past 15 years: The Sunshine Club (2000), Eora Crossing (2004), The Sapphires (2005), Nargun and the Stars (2009), I am Eora (2012) and Black Diggers (2014). Wesley has worked with almost every major theatre company and festival in the country and toured shows internationally.
Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts, Troy Grant, said “Sydney Festival is one of the world’s pre-eminent arts and cultural festivals and I am delighted that Wesley Enoch will be the Festival’s new Director. Wesley has already made a significant contribution to the Australian arts landscape and brings a wealth of experience to this coveted role in which he will lead one of our country’s most important annual events alongside Executive Director, Chris Tooher.”
The Lord Mayor, Clover Moore MP said “Wesley is one of Australia’s finest creative talents and it’s terrific to see him at the helm of Sydney’s major cultural festival. Judging by his past contributions to Sydney Festival, with productions like I am Eora and Black Diggers, he will not shy away from the important issues. Under Wesley Enoch’s watch I’m looking forward to seeing more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and audiences, who make such a valuable contribution to our country’s creativity and culture, taking part in the Festival.”
Wesley is delighted about the new challenge, saying “Excited is too inadequate a word for how I’m feeling. I have had a long love affair with Sydney Festival and its audiences. I’m totally thrilled to return in the role of Festival Director. The Festival is a huge family of people who give their time, resources, money and talent; and I want to meet every single one of them. Festivals provide a huge cultural canvas and help reimagine a city, helping it think creatively and see things differently. I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting started.”
What a great story for a leading Australian theatre company like the Queensland Theatre Company (QTC) to tell at this time! And what timing! Whilst the show was still playing, on Australia’s Day, Koori AFL star Adam Goodes was announced ‘Australian Of The Year’.
BLACK DIGGERS tell of how, at a time when Kooris in this country were treated as less than second class citizen without voting rights, more than 1,000 indigenous soldiers fought side by side alongside their white countrymen in the battlefields of the Great War- in Palestine, the Somme, Gallipoli and Flanders Fields. Some became highly decorated soldiers…
It was another chapter in Australia’s- ‘White Australia has a very black history’- that the treatment that Koori returned servicemen received was no different from what they were used to before they left for the War.
With such a tough story, it would have been very easy for the playwright Tom Wright and the director Wesley Enoch to come up with a depressing, even spiteful production. Not so….Instead they have come up with a vibrant production.
The show went for 100 minutes without break, allowing the actors to maintain their momentum. We closely followed the individual journeys of the soldiers.
There were some sixty scenes- some stand-outs…The scene where two Kooris walk into a pub. The publican blocks their entrance. ‘We don’t have Kooris here’. From inside the pub a guy they fought alongside in the war spots them. He comes up to them and says to the publican- ‘You let these guys in- they fought with me in the war- or I will have words to the RSL about you’. His two mates are let in.
The play’s setting authentically changes from pre-war Australia to the horrors of the trenches to a cold, ineffectual post war country, giving us ‘the whole picture’. There was humour amongst the men with them just trying to stay on top of things.
A feature of Stephen Curtis’s set design was the chalkboard walls. Through the play the cast would inscribe telling details on these walls- signifying time periods, locations and much more.
The cast were great, delivering strong performances. The team comprised George Bostock, Luke Carroll, David Page, Hunter Page-Lochard, Guy Simon, Colin Smith, Eliah Watego, Tibian Wyles and Meyne Wyatt.
This was a show that absolutely called for something special and powerful. Wesley Enoch and his team delivered.
A Sydney Festival and Queensland Theatre Company World Premiere production, BLACK DIGGERS played the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House from the 17th to the 26th January, 2014.
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