The Interrobang is a first – a Festival of Questions driven entirely by questions submitted by you. Through a series of controversial, funny, revealing and insightful talks featuring a diverse group of thinkers – our Brains Trust – you'll explore new ideas across books, politics, race, language, food, comedy, science, culture and much more.
Alan is a research fellow at Swinburne University, creating model universes within supercomputers to study the growth of galaxies, from the Big Bang to the present day. As well as learning how galaxies form, these simulations let him uncover the nature of the invisible Universe; made up of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. He then tries to explain these discoveries and more on TV with ABC Breakfast News and Ten's The Project as well as live to all ages from year 2 primary school classes all the way to general audiences.
Abdul Abdullah is an artist from Perth, currently based in Sydney, who works across painting, photography, video, installation and performance. As a self described ‘outsider amongst outsiders’, his practice is primarily concerned with the experience of the ‘other’ in society. Abdullah’s projects have engaged with different marginalised minority groups and he is particularly interested in the experience of young Muslims in the contemporary multicultural Australian context. Through these processes and explorations Abdullah extrapolates this outlook to an examination of universal aspects of human nature.
Graeme Innes is a lawyer, mediator and company director. He has been a human rights practitioner for more than 30 years.
Graeme was a Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission for almost nine years, responsible for issues relating to disability, race and human rights. In this role he led work on issues including the ratification by Australia of a UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities, the Same Sex Same Entitlements inquiry, and three inspections of Australia's immigration detention centres.
He is currently the chair of the Attitude Australia Foundation, a startup aimed at using media to change attitudes towards Australians with disabilities. His memoir, Finding A Way, was published in 2016 by UQP.
Kristin Alford is a futurist and founding director of foresight agency Bridge8 with a PhD in process engineering and a Masters of Management in Strategic Foresight. Her clients include government, corporate and non-for-profits where she builds capability to think and act effectively in response to big social, environmental and technological changes. She was an organiser and facilitator for the Australian Academy of Sciences project imagining Australia in 2050. Other initiatives have included crowdfunding ideas that don't make sense and running a symposium on time with a start time of 4:42am. She is currently writing a book on five ways to see the future.
Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in Sydney's western suburbs.
In 1982 she won a scholarship to the journalism master's program at Columbia University in New York. Later, she worked for the Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.
In 2006, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her novel March. Her novels Caleb's Crossing and People of the Book were both New York Times bestsellers, and Year of Wonders and People of the Book are international bestsellers, translated into more than 25 languages. She is also the author of the acclaimed non-fiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence.
In 2011, she presented Australia's prestigious Boyer Lectures, later published as The Idea of Home.
Alan Brough was born in New Zealand and is quite a bit older than he'd like to be. Alan has always loved books and, from an early age, wanted to be a writer. Then he and his Dad went to see Star Wars and Alan decided that, actually, he really, really, really, really, really wanted to be an actor.
After having been an actor for a while Alan realised there wasn't that much work for a 6'4" guy with a slightly lopsided face and thick curly hair so he tried his hand at directing, broadcasting, composing, dancing (true!), singing and, in an unexpected turn of events, being a professional music nerd.
Recently, he got around to being a writer.
One day he hopes to have a bio that includes phrases like 'bestselling', 'award-winning' and 'so successful that he recently bought a solid gold toilet' but, until then, he's just happy to look at his copy of Charlie and the War Against the Grannies and think: 'Cool! I wrote a book!'
Jane Caro is an author, novelist, speaker, broadcaster, columnist, advertising writer and media and social commentator. She has published seven books, including two novels about Elizabeth Tudor. Her memoir, Plain Speaking Jane, was released in September 2015. She writes regular columns in the Sun Herald Sunday Life magazine, MT magazine and Mamamia Debrief Daily. She appears often in the media, including on the Gruen Transfer, Agony, Q&A, The Drum, Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise.
Mark Colvin is an Australian journalist, filmmaker and broadcaster. He has been the presenter of PM, one of the flagship Australian radio current affairs programs on the ABC Radio network, since 1997.
Meghan Daum has been a columnist on the op-ed page of the Los Angeles Times since 2005. She is the author of four books, most recently The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, a collection of original essays about sentimentality and manufactured emotion in American life.
She is also the editor of Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Choice Not to Have Children, featuring essays from celebrated writers including Lionel Shriver, Geoff Dyer, Pam Houston, Sigrid Nunez and Kate Christensen.
She has contributed to National Public Radio's Morning Edition and Marketplace, This American Life, and has written for numerous publications including The New Yorker, Harper's, GQ, Elle, Vogue, New York, Travel & Leisure, BlackBook, The Village Voice, and the New York Times Book Review.
Rob Delaney is a writer and comedian who co-writes and co-stars in Catastrophe. His other television credits include Key & Peele, Chelsea Lately, Burning Love, and Cougartown. His first novel and bestselling memoir, Rob Delaney: Mother Wife Sister Human Warrior Falcon Yardstick Turban Cabbage, was published in 2013.
Upulie Divisekera is a molecular biologist, science communicator and writer based in Melbourne. Over her research career, Upulie has worked in cancer research, developmental biology and is currently involved with nanotechnology research.
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger – the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of Walkaway, a novel for adults, a YA graphic novel called In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn't Want to Be Free, and young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture of the Nerds and Makers. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.
Tom Elliott is the host of 3AW's Drive program. He is also a director of Melbourne-based wealth management firm Beulah Capital. Tom writes a weekly opinion column for Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper and appears regularly on the Nine Network’s Today and ABC TV’s Agony Uncles series.
Raimond Gaita has published widely to academic and non- academic audiences. In 2009, the University of Antwerp awarded Gaita the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa ‘for his exceptional contribution to contemporary moral philosophy and for his singular contribution to the role of the intellectual in today’s academic world’.
Sammy J is an award-winning comedian, writer, and songbird.
Mary Kostakidis is a journalist and for 20 years presented SBS World News. In 1980 she was a member of the management team that developed SBS television. Mary was a member of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee that recommended a Human Rights Act for Australia. A former Chair of USYD’s Sydney Peace Foundation, she has also served on the Advertising Standards Board, the Fred Hollows Board, the National Library Council and Sydney Theatre Board, and is a member of the Privacy Foundation Advisory Panel.
Benjamin Law is a journalist, columnist, screenwriter and author of two books – The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012). Both were nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards. The Family Law is now in its fourth reprint, and has been translated into French and adapted into an AACTA-nominated SBS TV series.
He's the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014), with his sister Michelle, and Law School, with his mother Jenny Phang. He also wrote the September 2017 Quarterly Essay, 'Moral Panic 101'. He is a frequent contributor to Good Weekend, Frankie and the Monthly.
Adam Liaw is a unique voice in Australian food. He is a food columnist for Fairfax and the Guardian, and the author of four hugely popular cookbooks on Asian cuisines. On television, Adam hosts the SBS food and travel program, Destination Flavour, now in its fourth season. He was the winner of MasterChef Australia’s blockbuster second series in 2010. He is also a qualified lawyer.
Nakkiah Lui is a writer and actor and Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman. She is a co-writer and star of Black Comedy on ABC TV and is a monthly columnist for the Australian Women's Weekly Online. She has been an artist in residence at Griffin Theatre Company and was playwright in residence at Belvoir from 2012–2014.
Mary Norris has spent more than three decades as a copy editor at The New Yorker, where she’s worked with such celebrated writers as Philip Roth, Pauline Kael and George Saunders. Norris’s love of language led her to write Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, a manual for untangling the most vexing spelling, punctuation and usage quandaries in English.
Gregory Phillips is from the Waanyi and Jaru peoples, and comes from Cloncurry and Mount Isa. He is a medical anthropologist, with twenty-five years’ experience in leading change.
Gregory is Chief Executive Officer of ABSTARR Consulting, is an Associate Professor of Aboriginal Health, and serves on several boards and committees, including chairing the Cathy Freeman Foundation and AHPRA and the Australian Medical Council’s Indigenous health strategy groups.
Maggie Ryan Sandford is a science journalist, fiction and comedy writer, and human behavior researcher at the Science Museum of Minnesota, whose work focuses on equity in science education, the relationship between science and art, and cetaceans. With a background in broadcast radio and TV production, sketch comedy, English literature, and biology, her work has appeared in Slate, Smithsonian, McSweeney’s, ComedyCentral.com, mental_floss, National Geographic, the Walker Art Center and Seattle Art Museum, onstage at the People's Improv and Upright Citizen's Brigade theaters in New York, and on the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio. She is currently at work on a book about dolphins.
Cheryl Strayed is the author of the number one New York Times bestselling memoir Wild, the bestselling advice essay collection Tiny Beautiful Things, the novel Torch and the quotes collection Brave Enough. Her books have been translated into 40 languages around the world.
Strayed's essays have been published in Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, the Sun, Tin House and elsewhere. Strayed is the co-host, along with Steve Almond, of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, which originated with her popular Dear Sugar advice column on The Rumpus.
Dr Anne Summers AO is a best-selling author, journalist and thought-leader with a long career in politics, the media, business and the non-government sector in Australia, Europe and the United States. She is author of nine books, including the classic Damned Whores and God's Police, Ducks on the Pond, The Lost Mother, and The Misogyny Factor.
Yanis Varoufakis read mathematics and economics at the Universities of Essex and Birmingham. He has been professor of economics at the Universities of East Anglia, Cambridge, Sydney, Glasgow, Athens and Texas, as well as an in-house economist for a software company. He is also the author of a number of books.
Varoufakis was, in his own words, 'thrust onto the public scene by Europe’s inane handling of an inevitable crisis'. He was elected to Greece's Parliament with the largest share of votes in January 2015 and served as Greece’s Finance Minister (January to July 2015).
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer and the host of the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, the Fifth Estate, now in its sixth year. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre.