Wesley Enoch

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Wesley Enoch (born 1969) is an Australian playwright and artistic director of Murri descent from Stradbroke Island (Minjeribah), and he is a proud Noonuccal Nuugi man.


The eldest son of Doug and Lyn Enoch from Stradbroke Island, Wesley Enoch grew up in Brisbane.[1][2] He is the brother of Queensland government minister Leeanne Enoch.[3]

Enoch was trained in drama in the Bachelor of Arts (drama) course at Queensland University of Technology, where he directed and acted in many productions. He was also a founding member of the QUT Bonzani Commedia Troupe.

Enoch has been artistic director of Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts, an associate artist with the Queensland Theatre Company, resident director with the Sydney Theatre Company, artistic director of Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-Operative and associate artistic director Company B Belvoir St.[4] He was appointed artistic director of the Queensland Theatre Company in 2011, and Director of the Sydney Festival in 2017.

The plays that he writes and those he directs deal with issues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and the complexities of Australian race relations. Enoch attained prominence with his production of "7 Stages of Grieving" (co-written with Deborah Mailman) and then with Jane Harrison's Stolen, which premiered at the Playbox Theatre and went on to tour both nationally and internationally.

His play Black Medea is based on Euripides' Medea and updates and re-contextualises the Greek tragedy, giving it an Aboriginal perspective and transporting it to an Australian setting.[5][6] A young Indigenous woman leaves her desert home, denies her culture and forsakes her family to follow her wealthy, city-born lover. But her seeming good fortune soon turns bad, as her loveless marriage to the drunken and violent Jason falls apart. When Medea attempts to leave with their young son, Jason makes her promise that she will never take their child from the house.

From 1994 to 1997, Enoch Enoch was artistic director at Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts and then served a term from 2000-2001 as resident director at Sydney Theatre Company. From 2003 to 2006, he was artistic director at Ilbijerri Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-operative. In 2002, Enoch was the recipient of an Australia Council for the Arts Cité International des Arts residency in Paris. His The Story of the Miracles at Cookie's Table won the 2005 Patrick White Playwrights' Award.[7]

His 2004 work RiverlanD, told the story of artist, Ian W Abdulla. This production symbolically juxtaposed the Great Flooding of the Murray River in 1956 with the lives of a contemporary urban Indigenous family. The once mighty river force and the lives of three generations of family are bound together. The production embraced a recreation of spirit and a family's sense of place in the land.[8]

From 2006 to 2008, Enoch was associate artistic director at Belvoir Street Theatre where he directed many Australian indigenous works and re-contextualised many classic non-indigenous Australian plays into indigenous contexts. On 24 June 2010, Enoch was announced to be the new artistic director of the Queensland Theatre Company succeeding Michael Gow, taking up his appointment on a part-time basis from July 2010 and then full-time from 2011.[9] His most recent productions include an adaptation and re-contextualisation done with playwright Paula Nazarski of Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage and Her Children" set in a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic desert where Australia is ravaged by devastating conflict and where life is cheap but business is still business. This was mounted with an all-Indigenous cast, giving a fresh spin to Brecht’s play and re-contextualising the play in terms of themes of land ownership, the impact of mining and the Stolen Generation. Enoch's mounting of Alana Valentine's "Head Full of Love" in 2012 was a triumph. This play centred on a beanie weaving festival in Alice Springs and the friendship of Nessa (a paranoid urban white woman) and Nessa (an indigenous woman with acute diabetes). Enoch's production made a strong statement about reconciliation and dialogue between non-indigenous and indigenous Australians.[8]

Over a number of years, Enoch had been working with writer Tom Wright to develop a drama about the indigenous soldiers or 'black diggers' of World War I. In 2014 at the Sydney Opera House for the Sydney Festival, a Sydney Festival and Queensland Theatre Company co-production of "Black Diggers" premiered. With an all-male indigenous Australian cast, this play became a triumph of the festival. This production was moving and timely in a number of ways since it came to fruition on the eve of the centenary of the First World War. The play reveals the often forgotten contribution of First World War Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diggers, following their exceptional stories from their homelands to the battlefields of Gallipoli, Palestine and Flanders, to their return to an Australia where they were second class citizens subjected to regimes that regulated where they could live and work and where they were denied pensions and access to the Soldier Settlement Scheme. Enoch's powerful production gave a unique insight into the motivation of Indigenous men who assumed that the sacrifices they made would end prejudice and discrimination in Australia and who were determined to fight and die for the country they loved, but a country which ironically didn’t consider them the equals of their white counterparts in peacetime.[10]




  1. ^ Wesley Enoch, The Australian.
  2. ^ Biography Wesley Enoch, Charles Darwin University.
  3. ^ "Two of us: Leeanne and Wesley Enoch". The Age. 7 March 2015.
  4. ^ Eckersley. M.(ed.) 2009. Drama from the Rim: Asian Pacific Drama Book. Drama Victoria. Melbourne. 2009. (p7-9)
  5. ^ Review: Wesley Enoch’s Black Medea at Berkeley Street Theatre, Steel Bananas.
  6. ^ Black Medea, Alison Croggon, Theatre Notes Blog.
  7. ^ Hallett, B. 2007. The Story of the Miracles at Cookie's Table. Arts - Review. Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Sydney. 20 August.
  8. ^ a b Eckersley,M. 2012. "Australian Indigenous Drama". Tasman Press. Altona.
  9. ^ Lyall-Watson, K. 2010. Wesley Enoch gets the top job. Our Brisbane.Com. Brisbane. 24 June. http://www.ourbrisbane.com/blogs/performing-arts/2010-06-24-wesley-enoch-gets-top-job
  10. ^ Behrendt, L. 2014. "Black Diggers Review". theguardian.com. Jan 19, 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barbara Bollig: Transcultural Appropriations of the Medea Myth: Jackie Crossland's "Collateral Damage", Wesley Enoch’s "Black Medea", Cherrie Moraga’s "The Hungry Woman" and Dea Loher’s "Manhattan Medea". Thesis for Master's degree, Zentrum für Kanada-Studien Universität Trier 2017, Chair Ralf Hertel

External links[edit]