The Wheeler Centre Gala 2012: Stories to Believe In
Taking the lead from George Bernard Shaw, who claimed ‘It is not disbelief that is dangerous to our society; it is belief’, we opened our brand new year of programming by dedicating our annual tradition – the Wheeler Centre Gala Night – to that thorniest and most topical of themes: belief.
11 writers took to the stage to explore the concept of belief from a perspective of their choosing.
· Gillian Mears
· Bob Franklin
· Randa Abdel-Fatah
· Alice Pung
· Kaz Cooke
· Elliot Perlman
· Carrie Tiffany
· Andy Griffiths
· Lally Katz
· Tony Birch
· Casey Bennetto
Gillian Mears grew up in the northern New South Wales town of Grafton. Acclaim came early, with her short story collections and novels winning major prizes.
Bob Franklin is a highly respected writer, actor and comedian (perhaps most recognisable from The Librarians, Stupid Stupid Men and Thank God You’re Here).
Randa Abdel-Fattah is a well-known writer and scholar who is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University, Sydney.
Her books include Islamophobia and Everyday Multiculturalism and she serves on the editorial boards of Journal of the Contemporary Study of Islam and Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies. Randa is also a prominent Palestinian and anti-racism advocate, and the multi-award-winning author of 11 novels published in over 20 countries. She is co-editor of the anthology Arab, Australian, Other and is currently adapting her bestselling novel Does My Head Look Big in This? into a feature film.
Alice Pung is an award-winning Australian writer whose books include the bestselling memoirs Unpolished Gem (2006) and Her Father's Daughter (2011), and the novel Laurinda (2014). She is the editor of the anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia (2008), and created the Marly books for Penguin's Our Australian Girl series (2015). Her latest book is the novel One Hundred Days (2021).
Kaz Cooke is a former reporter and cartoonist turned history detective. She is also the author of the bestselling books Up The Duff, Kidwrangling, Girl Stuff, Girl Stuff 8–12, Women’s Stuff, and the children's picture books Wanda Linda Goes Berserk and The Terrible Underpants.
Her new novel, Ada, grew out of her research and exhibition during a Creative Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria, 2013–2015.
Carrie Tiffany was born in West Yorkshire and grew up in Western Australia. She spent her early twenties working as a park ranger in Central Australia. Her first novel, Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living (2005), was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Guardian First Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and won the Dobbie Award and the WA Premier’s Award for Fiction.
Tony Birch is the author of three novels: the bestselling The White Girl, winner of the 2020 NSW Premier's Award for Indigenous Writing, and shortlisted for the 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Prize; Ghost River, winner of the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing, and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2012. He is also the author of Shadowboxing, and three short story collections – Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People.
In 2017 Tony was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award. In 2021 he will release two new books, a poetry collection, Whisper Songs, and a new short story collection, Dark as Last Night. Tony Birch is also an activist, historian and essayist.
Elliot Perlman is an award-winning writer of one short story collection and three novels. He lives in Melbourne, where he also works as a barrister.
Andy Griffiths is one of the most popular children’s authors in Australia. He has written over 30 books, including nonsense verse, short stories, comic novels and plays. His books have been New York Times bestsellers, won more than eighty children’s choice awards, been adapted as theatre shows, television cartoon series and sold more than twelve million copies worldwide. He is best known as the author of the JUST! series, The Day My Bum Went Psycho and, in recent years, the bestselling Treehouse series which has been translated into over thirty languages.
Lally Katz is an award-winning Melbourne based playwright. Her play Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd premiered at Malthouse Theatre and won the Louis Esson Prize for Drama at the 2009 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.
Casey Bennetto is an award-winning writer, musician and radio broadcaster. He wrote the musical KEATING!, hosts the program Superfluity on Melbourne’s 3RRR, and has appeared in places as diverse as ABCTV’s Spicks and Specks, the Melbourne International Arts Festival and the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at Sydney Opera House.