Talks talks talks

hosting, panels

People of Melbourne, we have arrived at Epic Festivals Season. Yes, the tumble roll of MIFFMWFFRINGEMELBFEST is here, and that has landed this lil lady in a puddle of panel discussions!

Now, you needn’t groan.

And really you are very unlikely to, such is the current and seemingly insatiable appetite of Melbourne audiences for the public discussion of big ideas. Obviously this charge has been led by the Wheeler Centre, and indeed these days you can’t move but for an arts organisation’s talks program. That influence and spread has had the happy outcome of higher expectations, and those who are charged with facilitating must be better at the task. I do think we’re seeing less of the dreaded statements-as-questions, and I also think we’re seeing more interrogation of the format (not least *cough* through events like Next Wave’s Breakfast Club *cough*). Certainly the debacle that surrounded the program announcement of the 2014 Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House demonstrates the rigour that is required of curators and programming teams when considering how to position public provocation and debate. The strong and swift reaction against aspects of SOH’s 6th iteration of FODI is an interesting marker in terms of how our expectations have changed. (Really that whole thing was a massive shame, on a number of levels – not least for the attention it drew away from some actually fairly great stuff in the Festival; moreover it would troubling if the experience meant SOH became shy about programming more ‘dangerous’ and provocative work.)

But as a reaction against the echo-chamber of Twitter, the disorganised noise on Facebook, and with a political party in power whose preference is individualism,  I find it so, so encouraging that we have found a different and critically important way to gather. I’m not sure what its relationship is to other artforms, I’d guess I would say the Talks’ closest cousin is radio in terms of those qualities of intimacy, urgency and discovery. Of analysis and reflection. There’s some good borrowing from aspects of theatre and television, too. But what’s interesting about the Talk is its absolute reliance upon other cultural ideas or movements. In that way, it has the flexibility to do literally anything.

Anywho, now that I’ve explained just how important it is to do this stuff well…


you can join me in having a crack at such a task on four different occasions over the coming months.

On Tuesday 12th August at 6:45pm I’ll be hosting the Q&A with Directors Eleanor Sharpe and Justin Olstein for CURTAIN CALL as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival. Yes in 2 days’ time, look sharp!

On Sunday 17th August at 3pm I’ll be hosting a discussion on art and provocation, with Melbourne Writer’s Festival theatre company-in-residence The Rabble. Co-Directors Emma Valente and Kate Davis will be joined by visual artist Casey Jenkins, and writer/spoken word artist Maxine Clarke. It will take place in the Merlyn Theatre at Malthouse, and is FREE! I’ll post booking details for this ASAP.

Tuesday 26 August is the Victorian Theatre Forum. This is only open to members of TNV. Though if you’re an independent artist, membership is just $16.50 (ie, about 4 coffees). We’ll be discussing theatre’s political implications. Does it have any?  This annual meeting always sells out, so if you’re a theatre nerd, hop-to.

On Monday 13 October at 6pm I’ll be chatting with artists from a range of disciplines about what they experienced of two Melbourne Festival productions: Have I No Mouth by Irish theatre company Brokentalkers, and Roslyn Oades’ Hello Goodbye Happy Birthday. Interestingly, it’s taking place at the all-new MPavillion, another cool thing happening in this fair town. Hosted (of course) by the Wheeler Centre, you can book tickets for this freebie here.



Spherical Walter


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