Time moves quickly, doesn’t it? Before you know what’s happening, you wake up in a new year – and while you collect yourself, the year just past dims quickly into shadow.
But wait, not so fast!
This December, a Wheeler Centre tradition returns to unravel and revel in the delights and lowlights, majesties and travesties of 2015. Follow sugar-tongued songbird Casey Bennetto and a bevy of the nation’s most charmed and charming entertainers and writers – Santilla Chingaipe, The Listies, Marc Fennell, Penny Wong, First Dog on the Moon, Nicholas J. Johnson, Thomas Keneally, Toby Halligan, Jane Caro, Shellie Morris, Clare Wright, Tina Del Twist and Sami Shah – as they farewell the year in style ... one month at a time.
In 2013, there was Sammy J’s hilarious musical welcome to our future king (thanks Kate and Wills), and ‘Marngrook’ – Maxine Beneba Clarke’s probing, poignant meditation on race in football. Last year, we dodged Die Roten Punkte’s giant floating balloons (in celebration of Germany’s World Cup victory), heard passionate calls for justice from Zoe Daniel and Hannah Kent, and farewelled political giant Gough Whitlam with Monica Weightman’s rousing performance of ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’. What will 2015’s big stories be?
If you only see one show this year, let it be the Show of the Year, as our guests tell it like it was in five-minute bursts of song, story and slam poetry. It'll be richly funny, it'll be poignant, and everything in between.
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.
‘Celebrities and corporations spew forth “smash the patriarchy” and benefit financially from that. You want to talk about boards? I want to talk about how some women can’t get a job.’
Santilla Chingaipe is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. Chingaipe created and hosted the Africa Talks series in partnership with the Wheeler Centre, which explored perceptions about African-Australian identity, representation and politics. She also curated Australia’s first all-day, anti-racism festival, Not Racist, But.... Her work explores contemporary migration, cultural identities and politics. She reports regularly for the Saturday Paper and is a member of the federal government’s advisory group on Australia-Africa relations.
Writing and performing comedy for kids and their adults (kidults), the Listies are Melbourne-based duo Rich Higgins and Matt Kelly. Originally meeting each other during a production of Roald Dahl's The Twits (Rich was Mr Twit, Matt was Mrs Twit) they enjoyed performing together so much they decided to take the logical next step – purchase an inflatable unicorn costume and make a show for Melbourne Fringe.
Marc Fennell is an Australian radio and TV presenter, film critic, award-winning technology journalist, author, MC and the host of The Feed on SBS. Marc's first book, That Movie Book, was a guide for people who stay home watching films every weekend of the year. His most recent book, Planet According to the Movies, was released in late 2015. Now he's a father to Max – and has become one of those people.
Penny Wong was born in Malaysia and moved to Australia when she was eight.
Before entering Parliament, she was a barrister and solicitor in Adelaide, and worked as an adviser to the Carr Government in New South Wales. She was elected as a Labor Senator for South Australia in November 2001 and began her term in July 2002.
In Opposition, Penny held the portfolios of Employment and Workforce Participation, Corporate Governance and Responsibility and Public Administration and Accountability.
In December 2007 Penny was appointed to the Federal Cabinet in the Rudd Labor Government as the Minister for Climate Change and Water, and in March 2010 the Prime Minister added the Energy Efficiency portfolio to her responsibilities.
In September 2010 Penny was appointed as Minister for Finance and Deregulation in the Gillard Labor Government.
After the 2013 election, Penny was appointed as Opposition Leader in the Senate and Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment.
First Dog on the Moon is the internationally renowned, Walkley Award-winning and also very humble cartoonist for the Guardian Australia. First Dog's latest collection, A Treasury of Cartoons, has just been released and is really quite good.
Nicholas J. Johnson grew up in the circus around carnies and sideshow folk, understanding and practicing sleight of hand and card tricks, and intimate with the power of manipulation, deception and distraction. After decades of rubbing shoulders with fraudsters and liars, Nicholas J. Johnson is now a sought-after performer, writer and scam consultant, educating the public about the tricks of the con artist’s trade.
He has appeared on A Current Affair, The Project, Sunrise, Kids WB, Today, ABC Radio National and Triple J as an expert on fraud and deception. He has consulted with everyone from magician David Blaine to Circus Oz. An acclaimed comedian, Nicholas J. Johnson has performed at Edinburgh Fringe, Adelaide Fringe and the Melbourne Comedy Festival, where he was nominated for the 2014 Golden Gibbo Award for best independent comedy, and received the 2015 Moosehead Award.
His debut novel Chasing The Ace was published in 2014. His follow-up, Fast and Loose, was released July 2015. Nicholas J. Johnson lives in Melbourne.
Jane Caro is an author, novelist, speaker, broadcaster, columnist, advertising writer and media and social commentator. She has published seven books, including two novels about Elizabeth Tudor. Her memoir, Plain Speaking Jane, was released in September 2015. She writes regular columns in the Sun Herald Sunday Life magazine, MT magazine and Mamamia Debrief Daily. She appears often in the media, including on the Gruen Transfer, Agony, Q&A, The Drum, Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise.
‘I am a feminist therefore I commit feminist acts. I’m not going to undermine the political importance of what I do.’
La Trobe University historian Professor Clare Wright has worked as an author, academic, political speechwriter, historical consultant, and radio and TV broadcaster. Her latest book, You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians Who Won the Vote and Inspired the World, has been praised by Senator Penny Wong and Anne Summers. Her earlier book, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, won the 2014 Stella Prize and the 2014 NIB Award for Literature.
Truly unique, Tina Del Twist is Australia’s much-loved nightingale, known for her ‘beautiful voice and wicked sense of comic timing’ (the Age). With a voice as smooth as honey and a comedic wit that could shred brie, you’ll have a ball enjoying the talents of Tina Del Twist.
Sami Shah is a multi-award winning writer, comedian, and broadcaster. He’s been profiled in the New York Times, ABC’s Australian Story, BBC Radio 4, NPR, and appeared on QI with Stephen Fry and The Project.
Sami has been performing award-winning and highly acclaimed comedy for over a decade, and used his acerbic wit to address world affairs and social issues, in comedy clubs and even international platforms like TEDx.
Toby Halligan writes for Channel 10's The Project and SBS's Legally Brown, and has appeared on ABC's Strictly Speaking. His debut comedy show, Electile Dysfunction, was nominated for the best newcomer award at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and he regularly performs with Australia’s preeminent live political stand-up comedy group, Political Asylum. He is the co-author of the popular Diary Leaks website and his writing has appeared in Mamamia, the Monthly and the Age.