Wesley Enoch

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Wesley Enoch AM
Wesley James Enoch

1969 (age 54–55)
North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia
EducationQueensland University of Technology
Occupation(s)Playwright, artistic director

Wesley James Enoch AM (born 1969) is an Australian playwright and artistic director. He is especially known for The 7 Stages of Grieving, co-written with Deborah Mailman. He was artistic director of the Queensland Theatre Company from mid-2010 until October 2015, and completed a five-year stint as director of the Sydney Festival in February 2021.

Early and personal life[edit]

Wesley James Enoch[1] was born on North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah in 1969, the eldest son of Doug and Lyn Enoch.[2] and grew up in Brisbane.[3] He has four siblings and is the younger brother of Queensland government minister Leeanne Enoch.[4] His heritage is Nunukul and Ngugi[5] (two of three Quandamooka peoples from Stradbroke Island[6]), but also has a mixture of Irish, English and Scottish blood, and Danish and Spanish blood on his (non-Indigenous) mother's side, and Filipino, Pacific Islander and Kandju heritage on his father's.[1]

Enoch earned a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).[7]

As of 2021, Enoch is the domestic partner of past artistic director of Australian Ballet, David McAllister AC,[8][9] since around 2008, although they have lived in different cities for much of the time.[1]


From 1994 to 1997, Enoch was artistic director at Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts, where he directed a number of his own works. In 1998 he became Associate Artist at the Queensland Theatre Company, then served a term from 2000 to 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,[10][11] remaining on the board until 2007. During his time at Ilbijerri, Enoch directed a number of Company B (later Belvoir) productions, including his own Black Medea in collaboration with Malthouse Theatre), and The Sapphires with Melbourne Theatre Company.

From 2006 to 2008, took up the role of associate artistic director for Company B at the Belvoir St Theatre.[2]

Other major theatre companies he has worked with include State Theatre Company of South Australia, Black Swan Theatre, Griffin Theatre Company, Hothouse Theatre, Yirra Yaakin, and Windmill Theatre .[12]

In June 2010, his appointment as the new artistic director of the Queensland Theatre Company was announced, taking over from Michael Gow. He had previously directed several plays at the Company, and been an associate artist. He started in the new role firstly on a part-time basis from July 2010, and then full-time in January 2011.[12][13]

Enoch worked with Tom Wright to develop his play Black Diggers, about Indigenous soldiers in World War I, which under Enoch's direction premiered at the Sydney Opera House in 2014 to great acclaim[2] and was later performed in other states.[14]

He left Queensland Theatre to become director of the Sydney Festival in October 2015,[15] and served as director from February 2017 for a five-year term, with his last festival in 2021.[16][17][18] During his time there, he introduced many works offering a wide range of perspectives by First Nations artists.[19]

In March 2021 Enoch was appointed to the inaugural Indigenous Chair in the Creative Industries at QUT.[20][7]

Other roles[edit]

Written works[edit]

The 7 Stages of Grieving[edit]

Enoch is best-known for The 7 Stages of Grieving, a one-actor play co-written with Deborah Mailman in 1995 and first performed at the Metro Arts Theatre in Brisbane[24] by Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts, with Mailman in the solo role and Enoch directing, on 1 September 1995.[25] The play was published in book form in 1996, and has been much studied and written about since.[26]

The title refers to seven phases of Aboriginal history, with the words referencing Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's model commonly known as the five stages of grief. The stages in the play move from the Dreaming to a future of where Aboriginal self-determination and reconciliation with settler Australians has been achieved.[27] The seven stages comprise: Dreaming, Invasion, Genocide, Protection, Assimilation, Self-Determination and Reconciliation.[28] The concept of the seven phases of Aboriginal history were identified and named as such by Michael Williams, director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies at the University of Queensland when Enoch was teaching and Mailman was studying there during the 1990s.[29] The linking of Kübler-Ross's model and Williams' framework that started the examination of "the concept that Indigenous history has been a long and complicated grieving process since colonisation". Using traditional cultural forms of "dance, song, music, visuals and storytelling", they workshopped their ideas for two years before first presenting a 30-minute version, and then developed it further along with dramaturge Hilary Beaton to its full length, presented in 1995.[30] The play was during the early years of a formal reconciliation process in Australia,[24] and not long after Enoch's grandmother had died on Minjerribah and Enoch had participated in some of the ancient Aboriginal rites associated with death and burial.[29]

There were numerous performances of the play around Australia in the 1990s, as well as being performed at the Battersea Arts Centre in London[31] as part of the London International Festival of Theatre[2] in 1997. It has had several runs in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane during the 21st century. A touring production by the Sydney Theatre Company was originally scheduled for 2020,[31] but, interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, was postponed until mid-2021. This production, directed by Shari Sebbens and performed by Elaine Crombie, is being staged in Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra.[27]

Other works[edit]

Grace (1998) is a short film,[32] first screened around Australia in a group of six short films, collectively titled "Shifting Sands".[33][34]

Other works written by Enoch include:[a][2][14]

  • Little White Dress
  • A Life of Grace and Piety (1998)
  • The Sunshine Club (1999)
  • Black Medea (2000)
  • The Story of the Miracles at Cookie's Table (2006)
  • I Am Eora (2012)


In 2002, Enoch was the recipient of an Australia Council for the Arts residency at the Cité internationale des arts in Paris.[10]

The Sapphires (2004) won Helpmann Awards for Best Production and Best New Australian Work; remounted at the 2005 Sydney Festival[2][21]

His The Story of the Miracles at Cookie's Table won the 2005 Patrick White Playwrights' Award,[10][21]

Enoch was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours in 2020, "For significant service to the performing arts as an Indigenous director and playwright".[21]


Works directed and/or produced by Enoch include:[citation needed]


  1. ^ Dates reflect first performance of the work as recorded in AusStage.


  1. ^ a b c Dow, Steve (10–16 May 2013). "Queensland Theatre Company artistic director Wesley Enoch on work, faith and family". The Saturday Paper (11). Retrieved 25 June 2021. This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 10, 2014 as "Telling stories".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Wesley Enoch". AustLit. 27 January 2020. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  3. ^ Wesley Enoch, The Australian.
  4. ^ "Two of us: Leeanne and Wesley Enoch". The Age. 7 March 2015.
  5. ^ Browning, Daniel (30 January 2021). "What's next for outgoing Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch" (Audio + text). ABC Radio National. Awaye!. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  6. ^ O'Faircheallaigh, Ciaran (2015). Negotiations in the Indigenous World: Aboriginal Peoples and the Extractive Industry in Australia and Canada. Routledge. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-317-51153-3.
  7. ^ a b "Wesley Enoch". Queensland University of Technology. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  8. ^ McLoughlin, Sean (28 April 2021). "David McAllister AM awarded the RAD's Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award". AussieTheatre.com. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  9. ^ "Mr David Graeme McAllister AM". It's An Honour. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  10. ^ a b c Hallett, Bryce (20 August 2007). "The Story of the Miracles at Cookie's Table". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  11. ^ Eckersley, M. (2009). Drama from the Rim: Asian Pacific Drama Book. Drama Victoria. p. 7-9. ISBN 978-0-9585239-1-2. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Wesley Enoch takes top job at QTC". AussieTheatre.com. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  13. ^ Queensland Theatre Company (2011). Annual Report 2011 (PDF) (Report). p. 5,81. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  14. ^ a b "Wesley Enoch". AusStage. 2020. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  15. ^ Queensland Theatre Company (2015). Annual Report 2015 (PDF) (Report). p. 8.
  16. ^ "Festival Director". Sydney Festival. 29 March 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  17. ^ Enoch, Wesley (4 February 2021). "That's a wrap on SydFest 2021". Sydney Festival. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  18. ^ Cooper, Nathanael (22 January 2021). "Sydney Festival 2021: Enoch looks forward as he prepares to pass on the baton". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  19. ^ "Sydney Festival Director Wesley Enoch kicks off 2021 with a Festival that proudly celebrates Australian-made goodness". Create NSW. 15 January 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  20. ^ a b "Wesley Enoch returns to Country to give voice to Indigenous culture". QUT. 18 March 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  21. ^ a b c d e "Mr Wesley James Enoch". Australian Honours Search Facility. Australian Government. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  22. ^ "Assemblage Centre for Creative Arts". Flinders University. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  23. ^ "Assemblage Centre for Creative Arts - External Advisory Panel". Flinders University. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  24. ^ a b Harwood, Tristen (5 June 2021). "The 7 Stages of Grieving". The Saturday Paper (352). This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 5, 2021 as "Grief works".
  25. ^ "The 7 Stages of Grieving [Metro Arts, 1995]". AusStage. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  26. ^ "The Seven Stages of Grieving". AustLit. 25 November 2020. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  27. ^ a b Bremer, Rudi (5 June 2021). "As The 7 Stages of Grieving is re-staged, Shari Sebbens and Elaine Crombie ask how much has changed in 26 years". ABC News (Australia). ABC Arts. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  28. ^ "The 7 Stages of Grieving by Wesley Enoch & Deborah Mailman". State Theatre Company South Australia. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  29. ^ a b Lucashenko, Melissa (18 August 2015). "The 7 Stages of Grieving: Essay". Reading Australia. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  30. ^ "The creative process of an Australian classic: Wesley Enoch reflects on the evolution of his play". Riverside Parramatta. June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  31. ^ a b "The 7 Stages of Grieving". AusStage. 25 June 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  32. ^ "Grace (1998) - The Screen Guide". Screen Australia. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  33. ^ "Diverse faces of Aboriginality: Melanie Guiney speaks to Wesley Enoch, director of one of the short films in Shifting Sands". RealTime (25). June–July 1998. Retrieved 25 June 2021 – via Trove.
  34. ^ "Video Overview Shifting Sands – Grace (1998)". Australian Screen Online. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  35. ^ Dionysius, Bobbi-Lea (12 August 2013). "Trollop – Queensland Theatre Company". AussieTheatre.com. Retrieved 27 June 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]