Wesley Enoch AM

Wesley Enoch AM

This one time at St Martins...
we planned and delivered the largest gathering of Aboriginal dancers in Melbourne in almost a century.

A story about a moment, big or small
In 1993 I was 24 and I had decided to come to Melbourne because I had fallen in love, and Chris Thompson had invited me to do some work with St Martins. I didn't know anything about South Yarra but I soon found out that there weren't many Blak fellas living in the area. I had been asked to work on some Indigenous Programs and I started a notice board in the office called THE AGE OF CHANGE where I cut out newspaper clippings from the Age about Aboriginal people and stories affecting Aboriginal people. Even though it was the International Year of the World's Indigenous People the stories were not always that positive....in fact they rarely were.

I got involved in a few community activities including organising a huge dance gathering as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival at the Fitzroy Flats where over 100 dancers came together to share and exchange their dances. Also as part of Fringe I was invited to direct a reading of a play which was called The Lost Children by Jane Harrison. The show was an amalgam of verbatim stories from those who would go on to be named the Stolen Generation. This was the first reading of a play which was developed over an 8 year period and eventually was called STOLEN. This show would tour the world telling the stories of Indigenous children who were stolen from their parents.

This reading changed the trajectory of my career. Strengthened by the work of this fledgling company called Ilbijerri I returned to Brisbane and I helped establish a theatre company called Kooemba Jadrra and created The 7 Stages of Grieving with Deborah Mailman.

Weirdly, in 1998 I returned to Melbourne to direct STOLEN for Melbourne Festival and the rest is history.

I owe St Martins a lot. St Martins knew they wanted to express a different story, to assist to tell a blackfella story but they didn't know what to do to start, so they just gave over and had no expectations and hence their support built an internationally acclaimed show, kickstarted my career and helped move a million souls.

Wesley is now the Artistic Director of Sydney Festival.

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