If you missed it, you can catch up on this podcast.


Stories from Home

View all events in this series

Photo: Susana Millman

at The Wheeler Centre

Layla and Majnun: A Persian Love Story

An ancient, epic tale of star-crossed lovers, Layla and Majnun is more than 1000 years old. The story is revived at this year’s Melbourne International Arts Festival, in a magnificent dance production choreographed by Mark Morris.

As a complement to these performances, the Wheeler Centre is hosting a conversation about the significance of the Layla and Majnun legend, in the past and today, and on the nature of Persian storytelling traditions more broadly.

We’ll hear from musicologist Aida Huseynova, an expert in the music and culture of Azerbaijan, who consulted on the Layla and Majnun production. We’ll also hear from Shokoofeh Azar, acclaimed author of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, who drew on Persian legends when writing her Stella Prize-shortlisted novel. 

The pair will discuss the importance of music and song in Persian storytelling, and the role of adaptation and interpretation in keeping traditional stories alive.

Our bookseller at this event will be Hill of Content.

Presented in partnership with Melbourne International Arts Festival.


Portrait of Aida Huseynova

Aida Huseynova

Aida Huseynova Ph.D., a musicologist from Azerbaijan, is a Lecturer in Music at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Since 2006, Huseynova has served as a research advisor for the Mark Morris Dance Group, the Silk Road Ensemble founded by Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet and the Aga Khan Music Initiative.

Among her publications is the monograph Music of Azerbaijan: From Mugham to Opera (Indiana University Press, 2016). Huseynova’s awards include an Andrew W. Mellon grant (2015), a Fulbright Fellowship (2007–08).

Portrait of Shokoofeh Azar

Shokoofeh Azar

Shokoofeh Azar is an Iranian-Australian journalist and author, living in Australia since 2010 as an asylum seeker. She is the author of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree which was published in 2017 by Wild Dingo Press in Melbourne. This debut novel was nominated for the International Booker prize, The Stella, The Pen and National Awards.

Portrait of Serpil Senelmis

Serpil Senelmis

Serpil Senelmis is an Australian broadcaster with Turkish heritage. She is the co-director of Written & Recorded, a content agency.

Stories from Home

‘Home’ can mean many things for artists – from intimate knowledge of a genre, artform or practice to a deep connection with a national culture, its customs and traditions. What happens when we open our homes to others … or bring our familiar ground to them? Can shared stories create a home for all?

During this year’s Melbourne International Arts Festival, the Wheeler Centre presents a series of discussions that unravel the thinking behind three shows, each arising from the meeting of different cultures and artforms. Join us as we count out the creative dividends of collaboration, exchange and knowing your neighbours.


More about this venue, including large map, parking, public transport and accessibility.

Presented in partnership with