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 a founding member of the Melbourne School of Discontent. He has published three novels; The White Girl, Ghost River and Blood. He is also the author of Shadowboxing and three short story collections, Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People. In 2017 he was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award for his contribution to Australian literature. In 2021 he released two new books, a poetry book, Whisper Songs and a new short story collection, Dark As Last Night.
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 Australia’s most popular children’s authors. He and illustrator Terry Denton have collaborated on more than 33 bestselling books since their first title, Just Tricking, was published in 1997.In Australia, Andy and Terry’s books have sold over 10 million copies, won 80 children’s choice awards and 10 Australian Book Industry Awards—including Book of the Year for The 52-Storey Treehouse in 2015.
Their much-loved Treehouse Series has been embraced by children around the world and is now published in more than 35 countries. Five of the books in the series have been adapted for the stage and have all had sell-out seasons at the Sydney Opera House, as well as highly successful seasons in the Netherlands, New Zealand and America.
Andy is a passionate advocate for literacy and in 2015 was awarded the Dromkeen Medal to honour his outstanding contribution to Australian children’s literature. He is also an ambassador for both The Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the Pyjama Foundation.
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.