Literature: United we win

Arts leaders Wesley Enoch and Rhoda Roberts AO reflect on the legacy of writer Oodgeroo Noonuccal and activism in the arts.

The first published Aboriginal poet in Australia, the writings of Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker), captured both the strength of Aboriginal culture and the impacts of colonisation on her people. A charismatic, strong leader from Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), her distinctive voice pricked the national consciousness and brought another perspective to the literature of the time.

Wesley Enoch, who grew up on Minjerribah, has strong memories of “Aunty Kath”, and is now returning to Country and carrying on her legacy. In this very personal session, arts leaders Wesley Enoch and Rhoda Roberts AO share their memories of Noonuccal and discuss how arts and activism are inseparable.

Wesley Enoch

Wesley Enoch is a writer and director. He hails from Stradbroke Island (Minjeribah) and is a proud Quandamooka man.

Wesley Enoch
Portrait of Wesley Enoch Image: Supplied by Wesley Enoch
© Wesley Enoch

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 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 the Miracles at Cookie's Table won the 2005 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award.

His most recent production is the Australian premiere of Appropriate by Branden Jacobs Jenkins at the Sydney Theatre Company.

Rhonda Roberts

A Widjabul/Wieybal woman from the Bundjalung territories Rhonda is an experienced motivated and versatile arts executive, with a diverse range of international and national industry practice within commercial, community and non-profit organisations. She is the Curator: Parrtjima Festival, Alice Springs, Festival Director, Boomerang Dreaming Festival and the First Nations Creative Director for the Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA)

As an actor/producer and director, she continues to work as a consultant, is a sought-after speaker and performer in theatre, film, television and radio.

Rhonda Roberts
Rhonda Roberts AO Image: Daniel Boud
© Sydney Opera House

Lunchtime Conversation Series 2021: First Nations innovators and visionaries. Six illuminating talks exploring the stories and ground-breaking work of First Nations leaders across political, environmental and cultural fields.