Part of a podcast series

The Wheeler Centre

View all episodes in this series

The Wheeler Centre Gala 2018: Words on Fire: Patricia Cornelius

Listen to The Wheeler Centre Gala 2018: Words on Fire: Patricia Cornelius

For the 2018 Wheeler Centre Gala Night of Storytelling, we invited our speakers to probe a blazing, hot topic: the power of the written word and the loaded tenets of speech.  

When do words inspire and when do they incite? When is speech free, and when is it hateful? Fighting words, funny words, insulting words and incendiary words – for better or for worse, language moves us and it matters.

In a speech not for the faint-hearted, playwright Patricia Cornelius makes a case for coarse language – 'a wild thing, ugly, maddening, hilarious, inarticulate, rude, profane' – and against 'cleaning up' the voices of young actors in the theatre.

(Obviously, this episode includes liberal use of strong language. You've been warned!)

Photo of Patricia Cornelius

Patricia Cornelius at the Wheeler Centre Gala 2018 — Photo: Jon Tjhia


Portrait of Patricia Cornelius

Patricia Cornelius

‘You pay a price to be able to talk about your own country in the works in a really truthful and brutal way. A lot of people don’t want to hear that.’

Patricia Cornelius is a playwright of rare courage and power. As a founding member of Melbourne Workers Theatre, Patricia Cornelius has spent her career drawing attention to marginalised lives and issues surrounding class. Cornelius has written more than 35 plays, including Slut, The Call, Shit and Savages. She also co-wrote the Australian classic, Who’s Afraid of the Working Class? Cornelius is the recipient of the 2019 Windham Campbell Prize for Drama. 

The Wheeler Centre

Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre's podcast to hear full recordings of our talks – featuring the best in books, writing and ideas.