In this interview Kerry O’Brien talked to Rhoda Roberts AO and Wesley Enoch AM about the power of cultural expression in shaping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander understanding and knowledge, and the role of arts outlets in amplifying Indigenous voices.
Thanks to the efforts of innovators such as Rhoda and Wesley, the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts in the global sphere has grown exponentially over the course of a generation. By working hard to expand the impact of Indigenous artists in the public consciousness, increased cultural expression has led to a greater understanding of First Nations heritage and experience. In turn, this is now shaping the way rich and vibrant Indigenous stories are showcased and recontextualised for new audiences.
A pioneer in the arts world, Rhoda has been instrumental in breaking down cultural barriers and bringing contemporary First Nations works to the world’s stage.
Rhoda’s role in recognising disparities in the creative sector and creating meaningful ways to bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives to the forefront of public consciousness has made her one of Australia’s most significant arts practitioners.
Wesley is driven to create artistic opportunities to contribute to Australia’s national discourse and get audiences thinking and talking. In his 25 years as an arts leader, he has been a major driving force behind boosting the power of Indigenous voices through creative works that add to the national conversation with a unique First Nations perspective.
Join these change makers in a lively discussion on how enhancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices can have a flow on effect for cultural understanding, and what steps we need to take to ensure the preservation and advancement of First Nations cultures.
Rhoda Roberts AO
A Widjubul woman from the Bundjalung territories, Rhoda Roberts AO is currently Head of First Nations Programming, Sydney Opera House, Festival Director, Boomerang Festival and Creative Director Parrtjima Festival (NT). An experienced motivated and versatile arts executive, with a diverse range of international and national industry practice within commercial, community and non-profit organisations.
Rhoda was the founder and Festival Director of the Dreaming Festivals (1995-2009) and Co-Founder of the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust. A practicing weaver, actor, independent producer and director, she continues to work as a consultant across diverse disciplines and is a sought-after speaker and performer in theatre, film, television and radio. Her regular podcasts Deadly Voices, continue her broadcast history with the radio show Deadly Sounds (1992-2012)
The theatre production, Natives go Wild, was written and conceived by Rhoda and she is currently writing a new play featuring Lydia Miller and Rachel Maza. Rhoda is also the director for the film Balang with Wild Pacific Films and has recently been appointed by HOTA as Artistic Director for the Glow Festival.
Wesley Enoch AM
Wesley Enoch is a writer and director. He hails from Stradbroke Island (Minjeribah) and is a proud Quandamooka man.
Previously Wesley has been the Artistic Director at Sydney Festival from 2017 – 2020; Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts; Artistic Director at Ilbijerri Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-operative and the Associate Artistic Director at Belvoir Street Theatre. Wesley’s other residencies include Resident Director at Sydney Theatre Company; the 2002 Australia Council Cite Internationale des Arts Residency in Paris and the Australia Council Artistic Director for the Australian Delegation to the 2008 Festival of Pacific Arts. He was creative consultant, segment director and indigenous consultant for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Wesley has written and directed iconic Indigenous theatre productions. The 7 Stages of Grieving which Wesley directed and co-wrote with Deborah Mailman was first produced in 1995 and continues to tour both nationally and internationally. Others include The Sunshine Club for Queensland Theatre Company and a new adaptation of Medea by Euripides’; Black Medea. His play The Story of Miracles At Cookie’s Table won the 2005 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award.
In 2004 Wesley directed the original stage production of The Sapphires which won the 2005 Helpmann Award for Best Play. Other productions include Black Cockatoo, Stolen, Riverland, Mother Courage And Her Children, Headful Of Love, Bombshells, Black Diggers, Gasp!, Country Song, Happy Days And The Odd Couple, I Am Eora, One Night The Moon, The Man From Mukinupin, Yibiyung, Parramatta Girls, Capricornia, The Cherry Pickers And Romeo And Juliet.
His most recent production is the Australian premiere of Appropriate by Branden Jacobs Jenkins at the Sydney Theatre Company.
Monday 16 August 2021
6 – 7.15 pm AEST
Watch the livestream recording.
Listen to the recording via Apple Podcasts.