The Wheeler Centre's Season Three events will feature former leader of the Australian Labor Party, Bill Shorten; musician and author Paul Kelly; multi-award-winning author Bri Lee; comedian and broadcaster Sami Shah; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Samantha Power; human rights lawyer Julian Burnside; award-winning author Christos Tsiolkas; the Saturday Paper's poet laureate Maxine Beneba Clarke; plus more.
The Show of the Year
Wednesday 4 December at the Athenaeum Theatre
Goodbye 2019, we hardly knew ye! One minute, it was all heatwaves and holidays. The next minute, Simone Biles was doing triple-double backflips and Prince Archie was high-fiving Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Yes, in 2019, the news once again outpaced our ability to keep up with it. But with the Wheeler Centre's annual Show of the Year we'll relive the past 12 months in all their horror (Notre Dame!) and glory (Bluey!) So as the decade turns, we'll be remembering 2019 in style – with host Casey Bennetto and a glittering line-up, including former opposition leader Bill Shorten, musician and national treasure Paul Kelly, Four Corners investigative reporter Louise Milligan, local musician Laura Jean, award-winning comedian Nath Valvo, electro/soul duo The Merindas and more.
Mirror Mirror: Beauty, Body Image and the Self
Monday 25 November at the Wheeler Centre
Bri Lee's Beauty is a deeply personal treatise on body image, discipline and perfectionism. For this discussion, hosted by Lee herself, the panellists, including artist and 'Self Love Club' founder Frances Cannon, plus-size model and advocate Abbey Mag, and doctor and author Nikki Stamp, take Lee's essay as a jumping-off point for a broader conversation about beauty standards in the 21st Century. They will consider the beauty lies we tell ourselves and each other, and explore impossible standards amplified through social media.
The Fifth Estate: Samantha Power on Influence and Idealism
Tuesday 27 November at the Wheeler Centre
How does a person navigate the change from activist outsider to influential insider? How do you balance idealism and pragmatism under pressure? Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Samantha Power has had to navigate these questions first-hand. From a troubled childhood in Dublin to a career as a war correspondent then academic, she landed at the heart of American politics in 2005 – when her critiques of US foreign policy drew the attention of Barack Obama. She joined his team, eventually becoming a senior human rights adviser. As she reveals in her newest book, The Education of an Idealist, the intensity of her work was matched by personal struggle – trying to start a family, then raising young children; dealing with anxiety attacks and her own painful childhood. In conversation with Sally Warhaft at a very special lunchtime Fifth Estate, Power will discuss the complexity of decision-making, the tensions between activism and power, and the reconciliation of past and future.
Leading the Charge: Climate Change, Disability and Storytelling
Wednesday 27 November at the Wheeler Centre
Climate change is hitting some of us harder than others. For people with disability, it brings a unique set of potential impacts and consequences, from shelter and news accessibility during extreme weather events to sustainable housing and migration restrictions. In this conversation, our panellists, including Andy Jackson and Lefa Singleton Norton, will discuss inclusion and access in the context of the climate crisis. Is the global climate justice movement adequately attuned to the varying needs of people with disability?
Presented in partnership with The Other Film Festival and Arts Access Victoria with the support of City of Melbourne and Screen Australia.
Double Booked Club: Peter Polites and Christos Tsiolkas
Friday 29 November at the Wheeler Centre
For the final Double Booked Club for 2019, the Wheeler Centre will bring you a cracking conversation when Christos Tsiolkas is joined by Peter Polites. Tsiolkas is an internationally acclaimed author and a celebrated playwright, critic and short-story writer. His new novel, Damascus, is perhaps his most ambitious work yet, based on the gospel and letters of St Paul and concerned with the early days of the Christian church. Polites is an exciting new satirical voice in contemporary Australian literature. Polites won praise for his 2017 neo-noir novel, Down the Hume, which was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards. His new novel, The Pillars, is about suburban aspiration and consumerism. Both Tsiolkas and Polites are writers of Greek descent and both are animated by questions of class, sexuality and community. They'll have a lot to talk about in this lunchtime session, hosted by Maxine Beneba Clarke.
Invasion of the Pod People: Queering the Archives
Wednesday 28 November at the Wheeler Centre
What do we know about queer lives and stories from the past? In November, we'll delve into LGBTIQA+ histories with a special live recording of the Archive Fever podcast. Archive Fever is an Australian history podcast of conversation with writers, artists, curators and historians about the possibilities and limitations of archival records. At this event, hosts Clare Wright and Yves Rees will be joined by historian Noah Riseman and trans scholar and activist Julie Peters to discuss the absence of queer people, especially trans and gender diverse people, from conventional records and historical data.
Writers in Exile: PEN International Day of the Imprisoned Writer
Thursday 14 November at the Wheeler Centre
On the eve of PEN International's Day of the Imprisoned Writer, a special panel event will be held to discuss old and emerging threats to literary freedoms today. Host Sami Shah will welcome back the three writers who have shared their personal stories of exile – journalist Roza Germian, playwright Samah Sabawi and poet Mammad Aidani – for the last conversation in the series. They'll discuss their own experiences and their knowledge of press and literary restriction in their respective home countries. They'll talk, too, about the role Australia can and should play on the international stage with regards to protecting and protesting the freedom of writers here and overseas.
Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.
The Next Big Thing: Most Underrated Book Award Edition
Thursday 21 November at the Wheeler Centre
Now in its seventh year, the Small Press Network's Most Underrated Book Award celebrates independently published titles that deserve some extra attention. The 2019 shortlisted titles are Brontide by Sue McPherson (Magabala Books), Antidote to a Curse by James Cristina (Transit Lounge) and Songwoman by Ilka Tampke (Text Publishing), and the 2019 judges are Melissa Cranenburgh, Jane Rawson and Jackie Tang.
Presented in partnership with Small Press Network.
Local Lens: Refugees in Regional Australia
Wednesday 20 November at the Ballaarat Mechanics' Institute
In this panel discussion at the Ballaarat Mechanics' Institute, speakers including Ballarat refugee community mentor, Deruka Dekuek, lawyer and activist Nyadol Nyuon and human rights lawyer Julian Burnside will consider a global issue through a local lens. Ballarat is Victoria's fastest growing regional city and a designated Refugee Welcome Zone. The city has a diverse and active migrant and refugee community, and strong support from local leadership. They'll ask: How does the tenor of debate in Canberra – and the nature of all policies affecting humanitarian immigrants – affect the daily lives of refugees in places like Ballarat? And how does it impact the capacity for local communities to provide the support refugees need?
Presented in partnership with the Ballaarat Mechanics Institute.
Bookings for all events are essential and can be made at wheelercentre.com.