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Spring Fling 2023 Reflections

After 12 days of Spring Fling, our minds expanded and hearts full, a few members of the Wheeler Centre team share some of their most memorable moments from the series.

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Caraline Douglas – Head of Marketing and Engagement

It’s almost impossible to choose highlights, but I’ll do my best! I loved attending our inaugural Up Late event. The performance from the inimitable Simone Page Jones set the perfect tone for a Friday night out – dressed in a bell-sleeved marabou robe and climbing on our cabaret tables she transported us all away from a soggy Melbourne evening to a Parisian night on the town. Hosted by the effortlessly chic and charming Linda Bull in a stunning all-white power suit (enthusiastically thrifted, which got a well-deserved thumbs-up from Clare Press) she prompted our guests to answer where has all our money gone? The answer seems to be into the pockets of billionaires, unfortunately. And as depressed as you may think that answer might have left the audience, we were all howling with laughter from the monologues and Q&A with Clare Press, Dan Hogan and Hernan Diaz.

And I’d be remiss not to give the live recordings of See Also and Sentimental Garbage a shout out, too. A long time stan of both, both events saw the spaces bursting with electric energy. I laughed so hard I snorted (audibly) when Brodie Lancaster described the cocktails that she, Kate Jinx and Maria Angelico were drinking on stage. It’s not exactly how I pictured myself behaving at work, but I’m owning it.

Xanthea O’Connor – Program and Special Projects Producer

At Lost in Space: A Live Choose Your Own Adventure, authors Amie Kaufman and Lili Wilkinson spun a chaotic, hilarious and (almost) death defying tale of a teenaged alien. I’m in awe of people who can improvise elaborate stories on the fly, so it was a joy to see these two writers take a scene that teen writers Saskia de Leeuw Kyle and Poppy Holden had written and run with it. Shout out to host Sharon Zhang too, who expertly guided the audience in making all our important decisions (except for that one time we fatally fell from a wall made of bones).

Jamila Khodja – Programming Manager

While I absolutely loved hosting our international guests, this year’s Spring Fling reminded me what an incredible range of artists and performers we have on this continent. Melissa Lucashenko showcased her unrivalled gift for storytelling at Opening Night; Frankie van Kan offered a line-up of some of the strongest and most vital queer writers at Stripped Queer; and Jane Harrison and Tony Birch drew exquisite parallels between a reimagining of history and the present day. Australian artists at Spring Fling brought so much joy and energy to our program and I’m so grateful to work with them.

Kate Thorburn – Marketing and Communications Manager

There’s something very special about sitting in a darkened room watching people talk about subjects they’re passionate about. So many times during Spring Fling I looked down to check my watch to see that the conversation was almost over, even though it felt like it had only just begun! The highlight, though, has got to be the indomitable Emma Donovan’s performance at Opening Night. With just an acoustic guitar (played by David Tweedie) to accompany her, Emma shared a powerful song from her upcoming yet-to-be-released album. I felt privileged to be in the room.

Diem Nguyen – Program Coordinator

Hannah Diviney’s reflection at Spring Fling Opening Night was powerful, generous and darkly funny. I felt privileged to hear Hannah speak and own her story. See Also’s first live show was great fun, and it was fabulous to see BL, Jinxy and their guest Maria Angelico drink cocktails on stage. Lastly, I loved being in a full house for Caroline O’Donoghue’s event about her latest novel The Rachel Incident. I wanted to be friends with all the women in that room.

Natalie Williams – Digital and Marketing Coordinator

I was blown away by the range of conversations and performances at this year’s Spring Fling. This was my first year with availability to attend and I’m so glad I did! Two particular favourites were Stripped Queer and Robyn Davidson. I was unaware of Robyn’s work prior to attending but her earnest, heartfelt insights into honouring memory, familial relationships and the inner journeys we go on in our lives really moved me. Later that evening I headed to The Moat for an even deeper dive into intimacy as Frankie Van Kan, Gloria Demillo, Jasper Peach and Nevo Zisin bared all in nude readings of their poetry. The audience in the room was so responsive, respectful and empowering. After the recent events in the world, it felt so special to be in a room where people were allowed to be so vulnerable and be met with such love and support. Both events will stay with me for a very long time.

Veronica Sullivan – Head of Programming

There are so many special moments from Spring Fling 2024 that I’ll reflect on for a long time. Highlights for me included Lonnie Holley sharing his story, his art and his idiosyncratic view of the world and our place in it, followed by a breathtaking improvised musical performance that brought me to tears. Another highlight was the Wheeler Centre Performance Space transforming into an underwater wonderland for Deep Sea Divas, complete with a beautiful interactive story time hosted by Dandrogyny followed by young audience members having the time of their lives on the bubble-filled dance floor. Finally, Thomas Mayo’s Opening Night speech inspired us all to believe we can do and be better, even when the summit shifts seemingly beyond our reach.

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