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“You know, for me, I loved reading, but I didn’t exist on those pages and when a child of any age doesn’t exist in our mainstream, in our books, in our stories, they start believing they’re not important.” 

– Melina Marchetta 


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Looking for Alibrandi broke new ground with its honest and empowered portrait of an Italian-Australian teen coming of age in 1990s inner Sydney, speaking authentically about systemic racism in Australia from a migrant perspective.  

For generations of teens, the beloved novel (and later cult movie) is a foundational story. Its exploration of family, womanhood, first love, identity and othering still resonates with readers today, 30 years after its release. 

Now, Melina Marchetta’s novel has been adapted for the stage. In this special collaboration between the Wheeler Centre and Malthouse Theatre, Marchetta joined playwright Vidya Rajan, director Stephen Nicolazzo, and the film’s star Pia Miranda to discuss Looking for Alibrandi’s journey from page to screen to stage, the art of adaptation, and the enduring impact of this Australian classic.  

This conversation was hosted by Brodie Lancaster and recorded at the Malthouse Theatre on 18 July 2022. 

The bookseller was Hill of Content Bookshop. 

Music: Pastel Colours by Sarah, The Illstrumentalist 



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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.