On the Couch with Annette Shun Wah

Annette-Shun-Wah-photo-by-Prudence-UptonWho is Annette Shun Wah?
I’m a fourth-generation Chinese Australian writer, theatre maker, producer, dog lover and keen but unreliable gardener. I’m currently Executive Producer of Contemporary Asian Australian Performance, a resident company at Carriageworks in Sydney, and Artistic Director of Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying “Jill of all trades, but master of none” – I’d be master of one.

Who inspires you and why?
Great artists and thinkers who can reveal a truth and depth of meaning that I otherwise would never have perceived. Why? Because I’d like to be wiser than I am.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Make it compulsory for everyone to learn the primacy of human dignity, kindness and selflessness.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Japan, Taiwan and the south of France for the scenery, the people, the food and the aesthetic. The Kimberley for its remoteness and terrain, and because I’ve explored so little of it.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If there’s a great show on, I’d take them to that. Followed by a meal somewhere unfashionable but delicious. Then a ferry ride across Sydney Harbour.

What are you currently reading?
After Australia, a provocative collection of writing edited by Michael Mohammed Ahmad. And a trip down memory lane with Confessions of a Lighthouse Keeper by Greg Appel, an insider’s view of the 1980s indie music scene.

What are you currently listening to?
Local birdsong; Hand to Earth with the stunning vocals of Daniel Wilfred and Sunny Kim; fresh new voices from Darwin through Kuya James.

Happiness is?
Long beach walks with my partner, throwing frisbees for our pooch. A long and boisterous meal with friends. Seeing anything, or anyone I’ve nurtured, blossom and thrive.

What does the future hold for you?
Three editions of OzAsia Festival (2021-2023) hopefully followed by resting on my laurels!


Annette is OzAsia Festival’s newly appointed Artistic Director, and has programmed and will be hosting, OzAsia Talks from 20 October to 3 November 2020. The online talks series will feature artists and arts professionals from across Asia, with the line-up including Helpmann award-winning theatre maker S. Shakthidharan, Singaporean director Ong Keng Sen and emerging Thai-Australian playwright Anchuli Felicia King. For more information, visit: www.ozasiafestival.com.au for details.

Image: Annette Shun Wah – photo by Prudence Upton

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