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George Orwell’s 1984: A Live Reading


Event Status

On the day of the event, we’ll be able to admit a number of walk-up patrons. Please join us!

‘Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.’

The year 1984 has been and gone, but George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel remains an evergreen cultural reference point. Published in 1949, many of the book’s characters and coinages (including Big Brother, doublethink and Thought Police) have become idiomatic. 1984 is a novel that has been ransacked for inspiration by political speechwriters, reality TV executives, fashion designers and musicians (in 2009 the band Muse released a whole concept album based on the book).

In a special event presented by the Wheeler Centre and Melbourne Festival, we’ll revisit Orwell’s prescient novel of power and politics with a live reading in a very apt setting—the Legislative Assembly Chamber in Victoria’s Parliament House.

Over nine hours, up to 30 people will take their place at the Speaker’s chair to bring Orwell’s 1984 to life in a marathon relay reading.

Join us for a little or a long while at the heart of power; sit in the chairs of state leaders in the debating area, or scrutinise every movement from the galleries upstairs.

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience 1984 as read by your favourite political commentators, politicians past and present, satirists, journalists and celebrities. 

Who’s reading?

Tim Watts, Janet Rice, Lindy Burns, Martin Foley, Adam Bandt, Judith Troeth, Julian Burnside, Catherine Deveny, Clementine Ford, Erik Jensen, Hilary Harper, Heidi Victoria, Jane Garrett, Gillian Triggs, Don Watson, Graeme Simsion, Tonya Roberts, Barrie Cassidy, Andrea McCall and more.

Ticketing and access details

· Patrons will be required to undergo a security check prior to entering Parliament House; please allow additional time for this to occur. If you have particular access requirements, contact Wheeler Centre reception and suitable arrangements will be made
· No food/drinks are allowed in the Legislative Assembly Chamber including bottled water (note: there will be water fountains in foyer)
· No professional cameras or flash photography allowed
· No umbrellas or bags are allowed in Parliament House
· Last entry to Parliament House will be at 5.00pm

Order of speakers

Part One: Chapter 1 – Barrie Cassidy
Part One: Chapter 1 (continued) – Clementine Ford
Part One: Chapter 2 – Catherine Deveny
Part One: Chapter 3 – Tonya Roberts
Part One: Chapter 4 – Jane Garrett
Part One: Chapter 5 – Don Watson
Part One: Chapter 5 (continued) & 6 – Erik Jensen
Part One: Chapter 7 – Gillian Triggs
Part One: Chapter 8 – Lindy Burns
Part One: Chapter 8 (continued) – Hilary Harper

Part Two: Chapter 1 – Joan Merenra
Part Two: Chapter 2 – Graeme Simsion
Part Two: Chapter 3 – Jess McGuire
Part Two: Chapter 4 – Janet Rice
Part Two: Chapter 5 – Tony Birch
Part Two: Chapter 6 & 7 – Tim Watts
Part Two: Chapter 8 – Heidi Victoria
Part Two: Chapter 9 – Andrew Moran
Part Two: Chapter 9 (continued) – Phoebe Bond

Part Three: Chapter 1 – Adam Bandt
Part Three: Chapter 1 (continued) & 2 – Andrea McCall
Part Three: Chapter 2 (continued) – Julian Burnside
Part Three: Chapter 2 (continued) & Chapter 3 – Judith Troeth
Part Three: Chapter 3 (continued) – Matthew Spencer
Part Three: Chapter 4 & 5 – Martin Foley
Part Three: Chapter 6 – Jaclyn Booton


Adam Bandt

Adam Bandt is a Greens MP and the Federal Member for Melbourne. He was elected in 2010 when he made history by becoming the first Greens MP elected to the House of Representatives at a general election. Adam was elected Deputy Leader in April 2012 and is the federal Greens spokesperson on industrial... Read more

Judith Troeth

Judith Troeth AM, was Liberal Senator for Victoria in the Federal Government for 18 years. She was the first female Member of Parliament in the Agricultural portfolio, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry from 1997 to 2004. She has also been Chair and De... Read more

Julian Burnside

Julian Burnside is a Melbourne barrister. He joined the Bar in 1976 and took silk in 1989. He specialises in commercial litigation, and has acted in many very contentious cases – the MUA Waterfront dispute; the Cash-for-Comment enquiry; cases for Alan Bond and Rose Porteous – but has be... Read more

Catherine Deveny

Catherine Deveny has been a comedian, writer and professional speaker for 23 years. She’s the author of seven books and over 1,000 columns for the Age newspaper, and is an ABC regular. She has appeared on Q&A five times — sitting next to John Elliott, Tony Abbott, Corey Bernardi, Peter Dutto... Read more

Clementine Ford

Clementine Ford is a Melbourne-based writer, speaker and feminist thinker. She is a columnist for Fairfax’s Daily Life and is a regular contributor to the Age and Sydney Morning Herald. Through her twice-weekly columns for Daily Life, Clementine explores issues of gen... Read more

Erik Jensen

Erik Jensen is an award-winning journalist, biographer, poet and screenwriter. He is the founding editor of The Saturday Paper and editor-in-chief of Schwartz Media. He is the author of Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen, On Kate Jennings and The Prosperity Gospel. His first collect... Read more

Hilary Harper

Hilary Harper has a degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing, and 30 years’ experience in radio. She’s been at the ABC since 2005. She’s covered everything from news and current affairs to traffic reporting, arts, health, gardeni... Read more

Heidi Victoria

Heidi Victoria was elected to Victoria’s State Parliament in 2006, to represent the people of Bayswater District in the Legislative Assembly. In November 2009, Heidi was made Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Arts, and in November 2010, she was given the honour of becoming Parliamentary Secre... Read more

Jane Garrett

Jane Garrett is the first female Emergency Services Minister in the history of Australia. She has responsibility of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Country Fire Authority – covering both metropolitan Melbourne and rural Victoria. Minister Garrett also oversees the Emergency Services Telecommunic... Read more

Gillian Triggs

Gillian Triggs is former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the new Chair of Justice Connect, a non-profit dedicated to connecting people locked out of the justice system with free legal help. She is also Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Vice Presid... Read more

Don Watson

Don Watson’s bestselling titles include Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime Minister, Death Sentence and The Bush, which won the Indie Book of the Year and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award. An acclaimed speechwriter and screenwriter, he is also beloved for his colum... Read more

Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion is a Melbourne-based novelist and screenwriter. The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect have combined global sales approaching five million copies. Graeme is also the author of the international bestsellers The Best of Adam Sharp and – co-written with his wife, Anne Buist – Two ... Read more

Barrie Cassidy

Barrie Cassidy is host of the ABC’s top rating Sunday morning political discussion program Insiders – now in its 14th year. Until recently he also hosted the sporting equivalent companion program Offsiders. Barrie has been a journalist for 47 years – and a political journalist since 1977.... Read more

Andrea McCall

Andrea McCall is a former Victorian politician, and a consultant to small business, not for profit organisations and the education sector, working with both public and private companies. She spent three years working for the Premier of Victoria before going into the Victorian State Parliament for se... Read more

Tonya Roberts

Tonya Roberts is a well known former ABC Radio broadcaster in Melbourne. A background and qualifications in agriculture led to her joining the ABC’s rural department, followed by many years as a prime time host. Keen on hiking, crime fiction and political podcasts, Tonya now works as an e... Read more


Parliament House Legislative Assembly Chamber

Parliament House, Spring St East, Melbourne VIC 3002

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