at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne

The Wheeler Centre Gala 2017: Stories for the Dead

‘Death exists, not as the opposite, but as a part of life,’ Haruki Murakami wrote in Norwegian Wood. What stories do we tell ourselves about death and the dead? How do our ideas around death vary across cultures?

For our seventh annual gala night of storytelling, we’re partnering with Arts Centre Melbourne for Asia TOPA to bring together talented writers and artists from across the region. Each will respond to our provocative (and slightly spooky) theme: Stories for the Dead.

Guests include writer Clementine Ford, soprano Deborah Cheetham, Indonesian dancer Eko Supriyanto, performer Candy Bowers, Thai Classical dancer Pichet Klunchun, musician Kakushin Nishihara with translator Nobuko Aiso, US musician and author Amanda Palmer, broadcaster and writer Myf Warhurst, wordsmith David Astle, cellist and broadcaster Eddie Ayres and author Ramona Koval.

Prepare for very different reflections on the theme – from funny to ghoulish to political to poignant. Do the dead walk among us? Join us for stories of ghosts and spirits; ritual and revival; life, loss, love and death.

#StoriesForTheDead #AsiaTOPA

Presented by the Wheeler Centre and Arts Centre Melbourne for Asia TOPA.

Asia TOPA is a joint initiative of the Sidney Myer Fund and Arts Centre Melbourne and is supported by the Australian and Victorian Governments.

This event will be Auslan interpreted.

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Portrait of Eko Supriyanto

Eko Supriyanto

Founder and artistic director for EkosDance Company and Solo Dance Studio in Surakarta Indonesia, Eko Supriyanto’s performance career spans major works and tours throughout Indonesia, Europe, America and the Asia Pacific.

Trained in Javanese court dances and the Indonesian martial arts of Pencak Silat since the age of seven, Eko is a full-time faculty lecturer at the Indonesian Institute for the Arts, Surakarta (ISI Surakarta). He holds a PhD in Performance Studies (2014) from Gadjah Mada University and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Dance and Choreography from the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures (2001). 

Portrait of Candy Bowers

Candy Bowers

Candy Bowers is an award-winning writer, actor, social-activist, comedian and producer. The co-artistic director of Black Honey Company, Candy has pioneered a fierce sub-genre of hip hop theatre that delves into the heart of radical feminist dreaming.


Portrait of Deborah Cheetham

Deborah Cheetham

Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator has been a leader in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years. In the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Deborah was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance. In March 2015, she was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.

Portrait of Ed Ayres

Ed Ayres

Ed Ayres is a writer, music teacher and broadcaster. He was born on the White Cliffs of Dover and began playing music when he was six years old. He studied music in Manchester, Berlin and London, played professionally in the UK and Hong Kong and moved to Australia in 2003. Ed is the presenter of ABC Classic’s Weekend Breakfast.

Ed has written four books - Cadence, about his journey by bicycle from England to Hong Kong with only a violin for company, Danger Music, describing his year teaching music in Afghanistan, Sonam and the Silence, a children’s book about the importance of music, and his most recent, Whole Notes - Life Lessons in Music. Ed’s books have been shortlisted for several prestigious awards, including the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. 

Portrait of Nobuko Aiso

Nobuko Aiso

Nobuko Aiso is a translator, interpretator, writer, project manager and international correspondent. In 2015, she co-founded Art Translators Collective, an independent organisation that explores the value and possibilities of translation in the field of art.

Portrait of Myf Warhurst

Myf Warhurst

Myf Warhurst be heard across the country on ABC Radio from 12.30pm-2pm weekdays. She presents Bang On with co-host Zan Rowe – a podcast where they chat about the biggest issues in art, music and pop culture, available for download via the ABC Radio app or iTunes.

In 2017, Myf hosted the Eurovision Song Contest for SBS in Kyiv, Ukraine alongside Joel Creasey. In 2018, the pair returned to host the contest in Lisbon, Portugal and the SBS’s coverage of the Royal Wedding.

Portrait of Kakushin Nishihara

Kakushin Nishihara

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Kakushin Nishihara is a Tsuruta-style Satsuma biwa player and a collage artist. (The Satsuma biwa is a traditional Japanese lute.) She trained under the tutelage of biwa master Kinshi Tsuruta until her teacher’s death.

Kakushin is active not only within Japan, but also in Europe and Africa. Her musical activities span classical biwa performances, original pieces using noise, and collaborations with other instruments and genres such as contemporary art.

Portrait of Pichet Klunchun

Pichet Klunchun

Pichet Klunchun bridges Thai Classical Dance language with contemporary sensibilities – while keeping the heart and wisdom of the tradition. He has earned domestic notoriety for his efforts in contemporising Khon.

Portrait of David Astle

David Astle

David Astle is a full-time word nerd. You may know his loud shirts from SBS’s Letters and Numbers. Or his black-and-white boxes in Friday’s Age. He’s also the author of Wordburger (How to be a champion puzzler in 20 quick bites), plus Riddledom, Puzzled and Cluetopia. His favourite word is ‘acrobat’.

Portrait of Ramona Koval

Ramona Koval

Ramona Koval is a writer, journalist, broadcaster and editor.  She is an Honorary Fellow at the centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne.

Portrait of Clementine Ford

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 gender inequality and pop culture. Fight Like a Girl is her first book.

Portrait of Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer is a performer, director, composer, musician and author who came to prominence as frontwoman and keyboardist for the punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls.


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