I spent yesterday’s early evening at Hamer Hall at the Wheeler Centre Gala 2017: Stories for the Dead.
It might strike most people as a difficiult topic; as Wheeler Centre Director Michael Williams said when opening the evening, ‘It’s a beautiful day outsid e but there’s nearly a thousand people here who want to sit in a basement and talk about death.’ But it was lovely.
This was the Wheeler Centre’s seventh annual gala night of storytelling and was part of Asia TOPA, a festival presented by some of Victoria’s top cultural institutions. Partnering with Arts Centre Melbourne, the Wheeler brought together talented writers and artists from across Australasia.
The room was full of emotion, but a sense of comfort as well. Everyone has their griefs, fresh and well‑worn, and they were thick in the air as eleven consummate storytellers led us, gently and firmly, through two hours of exploration and sharing.
In their safe hands we heard about early morning phone calls in dark hotels, unexplainable spiritual experiences, powerful connections to old battlefields, survival in a war zone, and the terror and exhaustion of new motherhood.
Performers were Amanda Palmer, Ramona Koval, Myf Warhurst, Clementine Ford, Deborah Cheetham, Eko Supriyanto, Candy Bowers, Pichet Klunchun, Kakushin Nishihara, David Astle, and Eddie Ayres.
For more on the Wheeler Centre’s 2017 program, visit its website.