The Interrobang: A Festival of Questions
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‘Hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works’, so it’s said. But why should we trust even those words?
To close our inaugural Festival of Questions, we’re assembling ten of our esteemed Brains Trust to look beyond the act of asking, and reflect on what comes next: more talk, or action?
Adam Liaw, Alan Brough, Cheryl Strayed, Graeme Innes, Maggie Ryan Sandford, Mary Norris, Nakkiah Lui, Rob Delaney, Sally Warhaft and Upulie Divisekera will bring us ten stories that traverse the confessional, allegorical and universal – revealing and questioning the deeds and decisions that move and change our lives and worlds.
An action that affected everything. The consequences of a simple sentence. Language as a vehicle for justice, deception and atonement. And – as with relationships, negotiation, politics and responsibility – those moments when words and actions are one and the same.
Tickets to this event are available at the door. Arrive at least twenty minutes prior to the event to purchase.
Note to early bookers: if you booked tickets to this event prior to Thursday 19 November, some details may have changed. Please check theinterrobang.wheelercentre.com/#important-info for details.
Rob Delaney is a writer and comedian who co-writes and co-stars in Catastrophe. His other television credits include Key & Peele, Chelsea Lately, Burning Love, and Cougartown. His first novel and bestselling memoir, Rob Delaney: Mother Wife Sister Human Warrior Falcon Yardstick Turban Cabbage, was published in 2013.
Cheryl Strayed is the author of the number one New York Times bestselling memoir Wild, the bestselling advice essay collection Tiny Beautiful Things, the novel Torch and the quotes collection Brave Enough. Her books have been translated into 40 languages around the world.
Strayed's essays have been published in Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, the Sun, Tin House and elsewhere. Strayed is the co-host, along with Steve Almond, of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, which originated with her popular Dear Sugar advice column on The Rumpus.
Nakkiah Lui is a writer/actor and Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman. She is a co-writer and star of ABC's Black Comedy. She has been an artist in residence at Griffin Theatre Company (2013) and was playwright in residence at Belvoir Theatre from 2012–14. In 2012, Nakkiah was the first recipient of The Dreaming Award from The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Arts Board of the Australia Council. The same year, Nakkiah was also the inaugural recipient of the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright Award. In 2014, Nakkiah was the recipient of the Malcolm Robertson Prize and a Green Room Award for Best Independent Production. Most recently Nakkiah won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award 2018, Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting for Black is the New White.
Maggie Ryan Sandford is a science journalist, fiction and comedy writer, and human behavior researcher at the Science Museum of Minnesota, whose work focuses on equity in science education, the relationship between science and art, and cetaceans. With a background in broadcast radio and TV production, sketch comedy, English literature, and biology, her work has appeared in Slate, Smithsonian, McSweeney’s, ComedyCentral.com, mental_floss, National Geographic, the Walker Art Center and Seattle Art Museum, onstage at the People's Improv and Upright Citizen's Brigade theaters in New York, and on the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio. She is currently at work on a book about dolphins.
Upulie Divisekera is a molecular biologist, science communicator and writer based in Melbourne. Over her research career, Upulie has worked in cancer research, developmental biology and is currently involved with nanotechnology research.
Alan Brough was born in New Zealand and is quite a bit older than he'd like to be. Alan has always loved books and, from an early age, wanted to be a writer. Then he and his Dad went to see Star Wars and Alan decided that, actually, he really, really, really, really, really wanted to be an actor.
After having been an actor for a while Alan realised there wasn't that much work for a 6'4" guy with a slightly lopsided face and thick curly hair so he tried his hand at directing, broadcasting, composing, dancing (true!), singing and, in an unexpected turn of events, being a professional music nerd.
Recently, he got around to being a writer.
One day he hopes to have a bio that includes phrases like 'bestselling', 'award-winning' and 'so successful that he recently bought a solid gold toilet' but, until then, he's just happy to look at his copy of Charlie and the War Against the Grannies and think: 'Cool! I wrote a book!'
Adam Liaw is a unique voice in Australian food. He is a food columnist for Fairfax and the Guardian, and the author of four hugely popular cookbooks on Asian cuisines. On television, Adam hosts the SBS food and travel program, Destination Flavour, now in its fourth season. He was the winner of MasterChef Australia’s blockbuster second series in 2010. He is also a qualified lawyer.
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She hosts the Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, now in its ninth year. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.
Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.
Graeme Innes is a lawyer, mediator and company director. He has been a human rights practitioner for more than 30 years.
Graeme was a Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission for almost nine years, responsible for issues relating to disability, race and human rights. In this role he led work on issues including the ratification by Australia of a UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities, the Same Sex Same Entitlements inquiry, and three inspections of Australia's immigration detention centres.
He is currently the chair of the Attitude Australia Foundation, a startup aimed at using media to change attitudes towards Australians with disabilities. His memoir, Finding A Way, was published in 2016 by UQP.
Mary Norris is the author of Greek to Me and the New York Times bestseller Between You & Me, an account of her years in the New Yorker copy department. Originally from Cleveland, she lives in New York. Her favourite pencil used to be the Dixon Ticonderoga No. 1, but she now makes do with the Palomino Blackwing.
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.
He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian and elsewhere.
The Interrobang – a new festival from the Wheeler Centre – is looking for the best questions in the world.
Ask your questions and vote on others, then join us on 27–28 November for a feast of frequently unanswered questions – as we present your most controversial, revealing, funny and insightful ideas to a 28-strong Brains Trust of the world’s most inquisitive thinkers.
Pose your question at The Interrobang festival website. We’re building this festival on your curiosity, so brace yourself – and wonder hard.
• City of Melbourne
• The University of Melbourne