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The First 50 Podcast — Episode 9: Annette Shun Wah

Thursday, 21 September 2023
40 min listen
Annette Shun Wah The First 50 Podcast 1

In episode 9 of The First 50, host Libby O'Donovan talks to OzAsia Festival Artistic Director, Annette Shun Wah.

People talk about multiculturism and how wonderful it is because we get to eat a lot of different kinds of food, but I wanted to dig a bit deeper than just the cuisine. I wanted to dig into people’s history and their motivations to find things that make us different but ultimately what makes us the same. Our common sense of humanity.

— Annette Shun Wah

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Annette Shun Wah

Artistic Director, OzAsia Festival

Annette Shun Wah is a writer, broadcaster, producer and theatre-maker, and she is back again to lead OzAsia Festival 2023!  

In an extensive career that has ranged across radio, television, publishing, and theatre, her work has always been about the exploration of ideas through the arts such as music through The Noise and Studio 22, experimental arts and film on Eat Carpet and Imagine. As an actor she was nominated for an AFI award for her supporting role in Clara Laws feature film Floating Life, and as a writer she contributed to anthologies such as Growing up Asian in Australia (edited by Alice Pung) and Grandma Magic (edited by Janet Hutchinson), and co-authored the award-winning Banquet Ten Courses to Harmony, exploring the ways in which the Chinese integrated into Australian society through food. 

From 2013 to 2022, Annette led Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (CAAP), where she has been highly influential in forging professional pathways for Asian Australian artists and developing compelling new works that bring contemporary Asian Australian stories to festival stages. These include: The Serpents Table (Sydney Festival 2014); Yasukichi Murakami Through a Distant Lens (Darwin Festival, OzAsia Festival 2014); In Between Two (Sydney Festival 2016, Melbourne and OzAsia Festivals 2017);The Backstories, which she co-directed with William Yang (Adelaide Festival 2017); Double Delicious (Sydney Festival 2020, Asia TOPA, OzAsia Festival 2021); Perahu-Perahu (OzAsia Festival 2021); and Lost in Shanghai by Jane Hutcheon. 

She has been involved with OzAsia Festival events over many years including the Moon Lantern Parade, and emcees the Foundation Stage at WOMADelaide. In 2018 she was inducted into Adelaide Festival Centres Walk of Fame. 

Annette currently serves on the board of Sydney Theatre Company, the advisory boards of the Institute for Australian and Chinese Arts and Culture at Western Sydney University and Asialink, and is a member of the Asian Producers Platform. 

Annette Shun Wah photographer credit Naomi Jellicoe 2 1

Libby O'Donovan

Host, The First 50 podcast

Libby O'Donovan is a powerful and sassy performer (Sydney Morning Herald), renowned for her nuanced interpretations and extraordinary voice. She is a critically acclaimed jazz and cabaret performer and an award-winning Musical Director. Libby has entertained audiences the world-over with her unique talents, performing in New York, Tokyo and Toronto as well as Australia-wide. Equally at home in small ensemble acts as well as solo performances, she has been a proud member of ARIA nominated Cocos Lunch, Flat on Your Bacharach, and Women With Standards, for which she won a Green Room Award for Musical Direction. 

Highly regarded as a solo artist, Libby has performed seasons for the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Edinburgh Fringe, Sydney Spring Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, the International Jazz Educators Convention, Adelaide Cabaret Festival (including working with Broadway composers Jason Robert-Brown and Andrew Lippa), Melbourne Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, Feast Festival, and the Wangaratta Jazz Festival. 

Her theatre credits include Matthew Robinsons Metro Street, Doppio Parallelos DJ Squat, Contaminations Lab and The Last Child, Vitalstatistixs Way Dead Cool and Patch Theatre Companys Sharon Keep Ya Hair On! Libbys recent body of work in Cabaret includes The Story of Meredith Crocksley, Some of My Best Friends Are Single, Gady La La: Songs for the Sophisticated Fag Hag, Kate Leigh: The Worst Woman, UNSUNG and The Cowgirl and The Showgirl. 

As a recording artist she has featured on numerous Jazz and Cabaret albums, as well as her critically acclaimed self-penned albums The Complication, Home to You and Back to Broken Hill

Libby is also highly in demand as a composer, arranger and musical director. 

Libby was the recipient of Adelaide Cabaret Festival's Icon Award in 2022. 

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About The First 50 Podcast

Hosted by the powerful and sassy Libby O'Donovan, The First 50 podcast series will provide 12 snapshot moments that cover the Centre's 50-year history. Hear stories, anecdotes and memories by those who have had their lives touched by the theatre: performers, artistic directors, ushers, and Walk of Fame-ers. 

The 12 episodes within the series will be published monthly across 2023. Be sure to follow for monthly drops. 

OzAsia Festival

Join us from 19 Oct—5 Nov '23 for Australia’s leading contemporary arts festival engaging with Asia.

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