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Monday Conversations: Anaesthesia

Listen to Monday Conversations: Anaesthesia

In her new book on anaesthesia, journalist Kate Cole-Adams looks at the facts, and explores the enigma of this mysterious medical practice –  interweaving scientific and historical research with personal experience to present a haunting meditation on memory, paralysis and consciousness.

Photo of Kate Cole-Adams, Tim McCulloch and Benjamin Law at Belvoir Theatre

Kate Cole-Adams, Tim McCulloch and Benjamin Law at Belvoir Theatre — Photo: Emily Harms

How common is it for patients to ‘wake up’ during surgery? Is pain still pain if you can’t feel it? And what do we know about consciousness, anyway? In the first of a new series at Sydney's Belvoir Theatre, Cole-Adams broaches these questions and more in a fascinating discussion with anaesthetist Tim McCulloch and host Benjamin Law – opened with a performance from Belvoir's artistic director Eamon Flack.

Presented in partnership with Sydney Writers’ Festival and Belvoir.


Portrait of Kate Cole-Adams

Kate Cole-Adams

Kate Cole-Adams is a writer and journalist. She lives with her family in Melbourne, and until recently worked part-time training reporters at the Age newspaper.

She has previously worked for publications including Sydney Morning Herald and Time Australia magazine, where she was a senior writer. Her novel, Walking to the Moon, was shortlisted in the Unpublished Manuscript section of the 2006 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and published by Text in 2009. Anaesthesia is her second book. She writes very slowly.

Portrait of Tim McCulloch

Tim McCulloch

Tim McCulloch is a specialist anaesthetist at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and also does regular anaesthetic work in developing countries. He has particular expertise in monitoring brain function during surgery.

Besides his professional role rendering patients unconscious, Tim has a longstanding amateur interest in the mysteries of consciousness itself.

Portrait of Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law writes books, TV screenplays, columns, essays and feature journalism. He’s the author of the memoir The Family Law (2010), the travel book Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012) – both nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards – and the Quarterly Essay on Safe Schools, Moral Panic 101 (2017). The Family Law is now also an award-winning TV series for SBS, which Benjamin created and co-writes.

Eamon Flack

Eamon Flack is the Artistic Director of Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney.

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