Interview with Wan-Jung Wei: OISTAT’s Youngest Executive Director - StageLync

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Interview with Wan-Jung Wei: OISTAT’s Youngest Executive Director

Wan-Jung Wei  is the youngest Executive Director of OISTAT: International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians, since its inception in 1968.

She is a choreographer and arts manager with an MA in Arts Politics, known by her dance and politics friends for having special or ‘crazy’ ideas. At OISTAT, Wan-Jung oversees international projects which include World Stage Design, Scenofest, Theatre Architecture Competition and World Scenography. Let’s get to know more about Wan-Jung in 12 questions.

(Megan Gill): I’m curious about your early years. Can you tell us some more about yourself from that time?

(Wan-Jung Wei) Let me start with a story. I grew up in 1990s Taipei, where school uniforms in Taiwan were strictly gendered- boys in pants, girls in skirts. I was uncomfortable with these gender stereotypes. Each morning, faculty checked uniforms at the gate. To challenge this norm, I researched the school rules and found a loophole. One day, I boldly wore a boys’ uniform to class. When questioned, I calmly pointed to the rules, stating, “It only says students should wear uniforms; it doesn’t specify girls can’t wear boys’ uniforms. ” the faculty didn’t like it, but they couldn’t refute my logic.

This action, I later realized, was my first step in challenging gender stereotypes.

(MG) Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

(WJW) I’m the second child in the family. My sister is 3 years older than me. Having her around was like having a secret map to the world a guide to maneuvering within my parents’ sometimes confounding boundaries. My childhood dream was to be a zookeeper, a notion that turned our tiny Taipei apartment into animal land with dogs, a mischievous monkey, clucking chickens, and cooing pigeons. Reality hit when I realized that becoming a zookeeper meant mastering biology and chemistry, a path I wasn’t ready for. Yet, my love for animals never wavered, an enduring connection that transcends careers.

(MG) Can you also tell us how you got into dance and shed some light into your early years practicing the art form?

(WJW) My journey into the world of dance was a bit unconventional. I fell in love with hip-hop when i was 13 years old. Hip-hop’s spirit of self-expression resonated with me deeply, and it provided an outlet to break free from the intense and high-pressure school life I was experiencing. However, as I continued to practice hip-hop in college, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the sexual stereotypes and male gaze that were often associated with it. This discomfort led me to explore contemporary dance, which I found to be a more liberating and inclusive form of expression. Contemporary dance allowed me to delve into complex emotions and ideas without feeling confined by stereotypes or expectations.

It was a transformative experience that ultimately shaped my artistic journey

Wan-Jung in duet with dance partner

(MG) How does dance impact your career path?

(WJW) Dance is a significant part of my life. Choreography has sharpened my spatial awareness, and I apply the organizational skills I’ve learned in choreography to plan and manage international art events. The moments after dancing are when my thoughts are clearest; many solutions to work-related challenges come to me while in motion. My dance experience also greatly aids me in writing dance critiques as I instinctively connect with the movements on stage. Dancing sparks my inspiration.
On a personal level, dance provides me with an opportunity to listen to my inner voice. My passion for dance also helps me navigate the complexities of daily work.

(MG) I’m sure you’re a very busy person! Do you find ways to include dance into your life now? How do you do this?

(WJW) I attend ballet and contemporary dance classes every week. Dance serves as my escape, allowing me to hone my technique and concentrate on my body. Whenever I travel abroad for business, I make sure to pack my dance shoes. Taking a ballet class after a long day of meetings is revitalizing, akin to sipping fresh lemon juice on a scorching summer afternoon.

(MG) You refer to the marriage of your performing arts background and arts politics qualification as a perfect match. Can you tell us why it is a perfect match for you and give us some insight into the process of coming to this discovery?

(WJW) In my early years, I was determined yet confused. I had a passion for dance and international politics. Yet, I was told that I should focus on one thing and one thing only. ‘choose one, ‘ they said. Refusing to give up, I kept trying to find my path to combine my passion for theatre and politics, and I succeeded, I enrolled in the MA program for Arts Politics at New York University, where I met fascinating people from around the world who shared the same passion.

I believe that the commonality between politics and Performing Arts of “creating dialogues in daily life” and that is exactly what i do in my daily work for OISTAT.

(MG) Can you take us on your journey of getting to the point of executive director of OISTAT?

(WJW) After my graduate study, I worked as an intern, first at the United Nation and then in a dance company. It was literally arts and politics.

In 2011, I came across a job posting by oOISTAT that read, ‘we are looking for someone with a passion for politics, diplomacy, and theatre. ‘ my immediate thought was, ‘Hmm, that sounds exactly like me, ‘ and my instincts were spot on. OISTAT offered me the unique opportunity to engage in international politics while remaining deeply immersed in the world of performing arts. From the depths of my heart, I knew this was where I belonged. I began my journey at OISTAT as a secretary and, over time, earned promotions, first to manager in 2013 and eventually to the role of Executive Director in 2017. I am the youngest Executive Director to assume this position since OISTAT’s establishment in 1968 and the first with a background in diplomacy.

Interview with Wan-Jung

(MG) What do you want people to know about OISTAT?

(WJW) OISTAT is the place where creative ideas come to life. The reason for this is that we are a group of open-minded theatre professionals who are eager to share our innovations. The OISTAT headquarters team is proactive and efficient in its approach to work and problem-solving.

OISTAT, the international organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects, and Technicians, is a global network of theatre makers celebrating design and technology in live performances. It was founded in 1968 in Prague during the cold war with the goal of bridging theatre-makers between eastern and Western Europe. In 1993, the OISTAT headquarters moved to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. With the support of the Ministry of Culture in Taiwan, OISTAT relocated its headquarters to Taipei, Taiwan, in 2006, aiming to strengthen its connections with Asia. The journey of the OISTAT headquarters demonstrates that OISTAT is an organization that embraces change and expands its influence.

(MG) You describe yourself as a feminist. How would you say this translates into leading the organization and its offerings?

(WJW) As a feminist, I care about those who are underrepresented. Currently, I am the only Asian woman in OISTAT leadership. I view this as a distinct advantage that allows me to contribute significantly to the decision-making process by highlighting important factors that might otherwise be overlooked. At the organizational level, I actively advocate for geographical balance and gender equity in the selection process for OISTAT leadership positions. In my day-to-day responsibilities, I take measures to ensure that panels, conferences, and talks hosted by OISTAT maintain a balanced representation in terms of gender.

(MG) How can interested scenographers, theatre architects and technicians get involved and what can we expect from oistat in the near future?

OISTAT is a global network that has members in more than 50 countries.

Being part of OISTAT is like having friends in countries you’ve never visited. If you’re looking for people who share your passion for theatre design, architecture, and technology, OISTAT is the place to be.

OISTAT comprises six commissions: Architecture, Education, Research, Technology, Publication & Communication, and Performance Design. Under the OISTAT Performance Design commission, there are four sub-commissions: Lighting Design, Sound Design, Space Design, and Costume Design.

Both commissions and sub-commissions hold annual gatherings with meetings and presentations. It’s a great opportunity to get a taste of what OISTAT is all about.

One of our most significant international projects is World Stage Design (WSD), which includes the World Stage Design Exhibition, Scenofest (a festival celebrating scenography), Theatre Architecture Competition, and Technical Invention Prize. WSD is a unique occasion where you can meet theatre-makers from around the world. It’s inspiring to see how passionate theatre-makers are about their craft.

From October 18 to 25, 2025, OISTAT will host world stage design in Sharjah, UAE. This marks the first time we are bringing WSD to an Arabic-Speaking region.

Becoming a member of OISTAT 

Wan-Jung at World Stage Design 2017

(MG) What advice would you give to entertainment and Arts industry professionals in their early careers who also feel in-between about fitting their interests with their qualifications?

(WJW) I have three tips that have been really helpful in my years of building up my career by combining arts and politics.

  1. Follow your passion, even when the path seems challenging. Your passion will be the guiding light to lead you through the darkest of forests
  2. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
  3. Be modest and always keep your promises. These are the rules that will build your reputation

(MG) What’s one thing that you want people to know about you, that they won’t be able to find if they scour the internet for it?

(WJW) I am a fast reader. I read 4-6 books a month, ranging from literature to social science. After a long day, I love to cuddle with my dog, Schuman, a retired black labrador retriever from the police department, and enjoy a good book. (I have to admit that Schuman tries to stop me from reading, he prefers I play with him).

Wan-Jung’s dog, Schuman, enjoying a good book

(MG) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I hope that in 5 years, I will be a better version of myself: still with the same passion for theatre and politics but with more wisdom

Where do you see OISTAT in 10 years?

I envision OISTAT becoming the most influential international organization in theatre design, technology, and architecture, leading the way in sustainability. I would like to see OISTAT expand its network to include arts managers and reach more countries in Asia, Africa, and Arabic-speaking regions.

More importantly, OISTAT should strive for greater diversity and inclusivity in its leadership, considering factors such as geography, gender, and race.

To learn more about OISTAT events, click here.

Megan Gill
Musician, Producer -TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Megan is a Creative Industries Professional from the Caribbean twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. She is a versatile musician, producer and singer/songwriter with a rich audio/visual and technical theatre background. With over 16 years in live entertainment, Megan blends her talents with advocacy to empower the new generation of young creative professionals as well as underrepresented groups. A global citizen, Megan draws inspiration from her diverse networks and extensive travels. She holds a Master in Arts and Culture Management (hons), BFA in Performing Arts and Certification in Digital Media Studies- Music Technology. She is passionate about the Arts, coaching creatives, performing live and connecting with people of all cultures, living her life to the rhythm of ocean waves.

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Megan Gill

Megan is a Creative Industries Professional from the Caribbean twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. She is a versatile musician, producer and singer/songwriter with a rich audio/visual and technical theatre background. With over 16 years in live entertainment, Megan blends her talents with advocacy to empower the new generation of young creative professionals as well as underrepresented groups. A global citizen, Megan draws inspiration from her diverse networks and extensive travels. She holds a Master in Arts and Culture Management (hons), BFA in Performing Arts and Certification in Digital Media Studies- Music Technology. She is passionate about the Arts, coaching creatives, performing live and connecting with people of all cultures, living her life to the rhythm of ocean waves.