20 Questions to Wesley Enoch
Wesley Enoch, Murri man from Stradbroke Island and associate director of Company B Belvoir, is also a playwright (Black Medea and, with Deborah Mailman, Seven Stages of Grieving) and a director of productions such as The Sapphires, Stolen, The Sunshine Club, Romeo and Juliet, Wonderlands and Parramatta Girls. His new production is Howard Brenton’s Paul.
1. Who is Wesley Enoch?
Wesley is a too long biog with a bent towards Aboriginal Theatre.
2. Who was Paul?
A visionary, a pedant, a loony, a holy man, the father of the church, a freak, a celibate, an apostle.
3. What did you think when you first read the play?
I read it on a plane from Sydney to Melbourne and it filled the whole plane with characters and history and everyone spoke to me. It is a play full of ideas that challenged the way I think about the world.
4. Why do you think it caused such a furore among evangelists in the UK?
Did it?????? The play was received very well but the furore came before the play even opened. Which is amazing really - that a small and vocal minority had an opinion based on what they thought it was about rather than the play itself. It sold out as soon as it opened ... maybe the vocal minority helped bring attention to the work and the ideas in it.
5. Are Australians likely to react in a similar way?
I have faith in the ability of the majority of Australians to engage in debate, ideas and discussion and the minority to attempt to control them.
6. What do you understand by "religious fervour"? What do you think of it?
Extreme belief in anything can bring about extreme action. I believe extreme stamp collecting is as dangerous as extreme Islam. Moderation and common sense should always prevail.
7. Are you or have you ever been a believer (in anything)?
I read the bible from cover to cover. It took me three years.
8. What first turned you on to theatre?
The ability to speak to an audience and for them to listen to what was being said.
9. What was your first conscious ambition in life?
I wanted to be a teacher.[page]
10. Were you any good at sport? Did you ride a bike and skin your knees?
Was never considered good at sport though I did well at it ... the scars on my knees, scalp, elbows, under my chin, hands, soles of my feet and back are a testimony to my misspent youth.
11. Define faith.
Just believe I understand what it means.
12. This is your second major ensemble show (after Parramatta Girls. Do you like keeping a big mob in order? How do you do it?
I don't keep anyone in order. I'm just learning from everyone all the time. I learnt early on it's not my job to have the best idea it's my job to recognise the best idea.
13. Do you think God should be kept out of religion?
God is not about religion. Religion is the construction of people, a way of understanding a concept which outstrips our vocabulary to explain it.
14. What are you reading (aside from the script)?
We've started the programming process for next year so: reading new plays. During rehearsals enjoyed getting my old battered bible out again and re-read bits of it. Also some books on Paul and his travels.
15. What do you do before you go to sleep at night?
A few games of Sudoku.
16. Who do you admire most/least?
Hmmm ... audiences, actors, politicians. All in equal measure.
17. What are your goals (personal, professional, political)?
Never really set out to have goals ... happy rolling along and seeing what life has to offer.
18. What is the point of theatre?
This is tricky ... there are as many definitions as there are theatre makers. For me the telling of stories that illuminate our lives is important. To take an audience to places they don't normally go and engage with characters and situations and perspectives that have something to teach us. To feel stretched emotionally and intellectually and to feel the communion with a large group.
19. Are you a good cook, or is it just fuel?
I believe food is fuel most of the time but then there are times that exquisite tastes can bowl me over. I'm not afraid of the kitchen. At my happiest cooking for 15 or 10 people.
20. Why should we come and see Paul?
The question really should be: why shouldn't you?
Paul, Belvoir St Theatre to June 2, ph: 02 9699 3444 or www.belvoir.com.au