‘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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Eddie Ayres learnt the viola as a child in England, studying in Berlin and London before playing the viola for eight years with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. As Emma Ayres, she moved from Hong Kong to Australia to present a long-running and extremely popular breakfast radio programme on ABC Classic FM, while teaching music privately and professionally.
When Emma hung up her headphones at the end of 2014, there was a public outpouring of emotion. This tattooed, intelligent, warm and witty woman had made her way into the hearts of many Australians. What the devoted audience didn't see, however, was Emma's daily struggle to live within her woman's body. For 16 years, she knew that she was transgender but to take any action seemed impossible. Emma believed there was too much to lose – family, friends and her career.
In 2016, Emma accepted a position teaching cello, viola and double bass to Afghanistan's children at the world-renowned Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Amid the chaos and unpredictability of life in war-savaged Kabul, Emma realised she had to accept her future and returned to Australia to begin transitioning from female to male. In 2016, Emma became Eddie.
Danger Music is Eddie's second book following Cadence: Travels with Music, published in 2014.
Nobuko Aiso is a translator, interpretator, writer, project manageer 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.
Myf Warhurst currently hosts Lunch With Myf weekdays from 11am–2pm on ABC’s digital radio station Double J. Before that, she presented and co-produced Myf Warhurst’s NICE (ABC1), a TV series that embraced cultural icons of the past, the things that surround us, and all things... 'nice'.
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.
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.
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’.
Ramona Koval is a writer, journalist, broadcaster and editor. She is an Honorary Fellow at the centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne.
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.
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.