Wesley Enoch discusses the theatre industry amid the COVID crisis

Sydney Festival Artistic Director Wesley Enoch is no stranger to the theatre.

Wesley Enoch

A proud Noonuccal Nuugi man, Wesley has been Artistic Director for some of the country’s most prestigious companies, including the Queensland Theatre Company, Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts, Ilbijerri Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-operative, and Associate Artistic Director at Belvoir Street Theatre. He has written and directed The 7 Stages of Grieving (with Deborah Mailman), The Sunshine Club, Black Medea, and The Story of The Miracles at Cookie’s Table. His directorial credits spread across some of the country’s most renowned theatre companies, including but not limited to Mother Courage and her Children, Headful of Love, Bombshells (all for QTC), One Night The Moon (Malthouse Theatre), The Man From Mukinupin (Belvoir/MTC), Paramatta Girls (Company B), The Cherry Pickers (STC), and Romeo and Juliet (Bell Shakespeare).

Last week, on the little red company’s The IsoLate Late ShowWesley penned a beautiful tribute to closed venues, and has personally donated several thousand dollars towards the show’s cause, the Actors’ and Entertainers’ Benevolent Fund Queensland, Queensland’s leading performing arts charity supporting singers, actors, musicians, writers, and many more creatives whose industry has been affected by COVID-19.

With all this expertise and so much more, it felt fitting to discuss the state of the arts with Wesley, and get an insight on what one of Australia’s most distinguished creatives thinks about our current situation.


What do you think is the future of live theatre?

Theatre has been dying for 5000 years. Theatre has seen more ups and downs than the 199 bus in Brisbane. The live experience is always exciting and I cannot see that very human need to connect with each other abating when we get out of this lockdown. In fact I think more people will seek out live performance more when restrictions are lifted.

The IsoLate Late show have been streaming weekly to raise funds for ABFQLD

Do you think that this digital distribution will stay, even post COVID-19?

Digital distribution was already well established before COVID 19, it’s just more people have come to know about it and accept it as a welcome alternative to the boring stuff TV dishes up.

For you personally, what has been the most challenging part about all of this (isolation, social distancing, etc.)?

Watching people in the arts community lose jobs in the thousands and hundreds of millions of dollars of gigs disappear. The Arts have been the second hardest hit area of the economy after accommodation and Hospitality (which is where most artists go for their between jobs employment). We need more support for the arts and I am not seeing a national response to the devastation being wrought on this sector.

How can people support the arts in a time like this?

I gave myself a budget and set about supporting artists – I commissioned a painting, bought groceries for an actor friend, I donated to the Actors Benevolent Fund of Queensland, gave money to a theatre company and I reach out to talk to a few people I know how are vulnerable and have a chat with one of them each day.

Leave a Ghost Light On

Sydney Festival Artistic Director Wesley Enoch and Camerata – Queensland's Chamber Orchestra deliver a poignant tribute to dark venues across the country.‘Leave a Light On' by Tom Walker and Steve MacArrangement by Maitlohn DrewMusic performed by Camerata – Queensland's Chamber OrchestraWords written and spoken by Wesley EnochAudio by Geoff Mcgahan AudioVision by Rachael RiggImages thanks to Belvoir St Theatre, The Capital, Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, Capitol Theatre, BRISBANE POWERHOUSE, Cairns Performing Arts Centre, Colac Otway Performing Arts & Cultural Centre, Empire Theatre, Frankston Arts Centre, Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre, Glasshouse Port Macquarie, Glen Street Theatre, Ipswich Civic Centre, Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Kalamunda Performing Arts Centre, Karralyka Centre, Laycock Street Theatre, Logan Entertainment Centre, Malthouse Theatre (photo by Jack Dixon-Gunn), Mildura Arts Centre, Monkey Baa, Orange Civic Theatre, Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton, Princess Theatre, QPAC (image by Mark Burgin), Redland Performing Arts Centre, Riverlinks, Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre (SEC), Southbank Theatre, Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Art House, The Tivoli Brisbane, The Events Centre, Caloundra, Townsville Civic Theatre, Wangaratta Performing Arts & Convention Centre, West Gippsland Arts Centre and Whitehorse Centre.Donate now:www.theisolatelateshow.com

Posted by the little red company on Friday, 1 May 2020

Tune in to The IsoLate Late Show on The Little Red Company’s Facebook page each Friday at 8pm AEST.

You can donate directly to ABFQLD here.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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