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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 Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Her 2017 book Anaesthesia won the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award and was shortlisted for the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (Non-Fiction category) and Melbourne Prize Best Writing Award. Her 2008 novel, Walking to the Moon, was short-listed in the 2006 VPLA Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. She is fascinated by unconscious processes and other things she can’t understand.

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). 

He also created and co-wrote three seasons of the award-winning SBS TV series The Family Law, and his sold-out debut play Torch the Place (Melbourne Theatre Company) ran February–March 2020.

Eamon Flack

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

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