Go to Canberra Writers Festival 2020

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Canberra Writers Festival 2020

Since its inception in 2016, the Canberra Writers Festival has been bringing together the best Australian and international writers, thinkers and social and political commentators.

Under the theme Power Politics Passion the festival aims to scrutinise today’s issues, reflect on the past, contemplate the future and challenge our understanding of all.

The upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic has necessarily changed the festival’s program delivery in 2020.

The line-up for the 5th annual Canberra Writers Festival includes 17 live and streamed and 10 streamed-only events, including panel discussions and intimate ‘in conversation’ sessions, connecting authors with their loyal audience.

Live festival events will be staged at the National Museum of Australia, the Museum of Australian Democracy, the National Press Club and the Canberra Theatre Centre. Streamed events will be available only at the time of streaming.

Creative gatherings has never seemed more important and the past months have been incredibly challenging, but in August, as we prepare to emerge from Canberra’s winter, immerse yourself in a world of words at the Canberra Writers Festival – 12-16 August 2020.

Special offer: Purchase 3 Livestreams for $15*
*Please note this offer is not available online. To purchase please call Box Office on (02) 6275 2700. A$5.95 transaction fee per transaction applies

Tuesday 11 August

Big Mammoth Magic Elizabeth Gilbert in conversation with Chris Flynn

Presented by: ACT Government
Time: 6.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue
: Canberra Theatre Centre
Category: Pre-festival event streamed
Price Details:

Livestream:
All tickets $10*

 

 

Two writers. Two good mates. Two naturally curious beings connect across two hemispheres and time zones to chew the literary fat and ask why creativity should be joyous, hopeful and fun. Elizabeth Gilbert is the award-winning author of bestsellers Eat, Pray, Love and City of Girls. Chris Flynn’s third novel, Mammoth has been hailed a tour de force for originality.

*A$5.95 transaction fee per transaction applies

Wednesday 12 August

Dervla McTiernan: The Good Turn
Dervla McTiernan in conversation with Chris Hammer

Presented by: The Molonglo Group
Time: 12.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Category: Streamed only
Price Details:
All tickets $10*

Former lawyer turned international bestselling crime writer, Dervla McTiernan, discusses her brand new book The Good Turn, with bestselling author Chris Hammer which continues with the character of Cormac Reilly.

Paul Kelly: Love is as Strong as Death

Presented by: The RiotACT
Time: 2.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Category: Streamed only
Price Details:
All tickets $10*

Poetry teaches us how to love and live. It helps make sense of the world around us. Tune in to Paul Kelly in conversation with Libbi Gorr as he recites the poems he loves – ancient and modern, hallowed and profane, famous and little known – that speak to powerful literary themes of love and death and everything in between.

What the Colonists Never Knew: A history of Aboriginal Sydney with Denis Foley and Peter Read

Presented by: National Museum of Australia
Time: 4.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: National Museum of Australia, Discovery Centre
Category: Live and streamed – STANDARD EVENT
Price Details:
Adult: $25.00*
Concession: $20.00*
Junior: $15.00*
Livestream: All tickets $10*

Peter Read and Dennis Foley explore the history of Aboriginal Sydney and paint a vivid picture of what it was like to grow up Aboriginal in Sydney, alongside the colonists, from 1788 to the present. Presenting an honest account of the disappointment, pain and terror experienced by Sydney’s First Peoples and a celebrating the survival of their spirit.

Opening night: The Hangman’s Supper
Adam Liaw in conversation with Jo Savill

Presented by: National Museum of Australia
Times:
Dinner
: 6.30pm
Livestream: 8.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: National Museum of Australia, Gandel Atrium
CategoryLive and streamed – DINNER EVENT
Price Details:

Livestream: All tickets $10*


When Roald Dahl was 73, he wrote his friend Francis Bacon and asked what would he want for his last meal? Bacon’s response: “Two lightly boiled very fresh eggs and some bread and butter”.

One of TV’s favourite cooks and author, Adam Liaw has carte blanche to devise his own “Hangman’s Supper”. He converses – between mouthfuls – with food journalist, Jo Savill about the inspiration behind this specially curated Last Supper.

*A $5.95 transaction fee per transaction applies

Thursday 13 August

What Sustains Us?
Dr Julia Baird, Jean Kittson & David Roland moderated by Clare Wright

Presented by: National Museum of Australia
Time: 10.30am
Duration: 60mins
Category: Streamed only
Price Details: All tickets $10*


The human spirit rises again and again in the face of adversity. When our physical and emotional world turns on its head, what does it do to us and how do we get from crisis, to acceptance, to survival? Three bestselling authors, Julia Baird, Jean Kittson and David Roland, share their insights with author and historian Clare Wright.

She I Dare not Name
Donna Ward in conversation with Suzanne Leal

Presented by: National Circuit Network
Time: 12.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Category: Streamed only
Price Details: All tickets $10*

“Spinster” – synonymous with solitude – is one word Donna Ward dares not name. In a world made for couples and families, Donna talks with author Suzanne Leal about the challenges and courage of walking the road alone through midlife and beyond, and how she found the contentment and sense of achievement she never thought possible.

Getting on: Seventy is the new Fifty
Vicki Laveau-Harvie in conversation with Ashley Hay
Sponsored by the Griffith Review

Presented by: National Circuit Network
Time: 2.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Category: Streamed only
Price Details: All tickets $10*

When Vicki Laveau-Harvie won the 2019 Stella Prize for her memoir, The Erratics, she described herself as “stepping out of a shell to claim something for herself…where many would view women of her age as surplus to requirements, like garden gnomes”. Now that 70 is the new 50, growing older isn’t what it used to be. How does this change the experience of ageing?

Gloria Steinem: The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!
Gloria Steinem in conversation with Dr Kirstin Ferguson

Presented by: The Molonglo Group
Time: 4.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Category: Streamed only
Price Details: All tickets $10*


Gloria Steinem calls herself a ‘hopeaholic’. More than ever, the world needs unbiased hope for the future. From New York, the iconic feminist shares personal challenges, political issues and the poetry of everyday life with Dr Kirstin Ferguson, author of Women Kind.

Presented by: The National Press Club
Time: 6.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Category: Live and streamed
Price Details:
Adult:
$35.00*
Concession:
$30.00*
Junior: $
20.00*
Livestream:
$10.00*

Join some of Canberra’s leading political pundits as they discuss and debate the political year to date, and where to from here. Maintain a safe distance, there is bound to be political crossfire.

*A $5.95 transaction fee per transaction applies

Friday 14 August

Mary L Trump: Too Much and Never Enough
Mary L Trump in conversation with Fran Kelly

Presented by: National Press Club
Time: 7.45am – 9.30am
Duration: 75 mins
Category: Live and streamed
Price Details:
Adult: $39.00* (Includes breakfast and Bloody Mary)
Livestream: All tickets $10*

Mary L Trump’s international bestselling tell-all book about Donald Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, is a must-read psychological portrait. Exclusive to the Canberra Writers Festival, Mary and Frans’ conversation is unmissable for anyone seeking to understand the family dynamic that produced the most powerful man in the world today.

Where to for the next Generation?
Gabbi Stroud & Paul Browning moderated by Jane O’Dwyer

Presented by: Australian National University
Time: 10.30am
Duration: 60mins
Category: Streamed only
Price Details: All tickets $10*


With a global crisis around trust in government, business, media and society, how do we ensure the next generation become more trustworthy leaders? Dr Paul Browning and Gabbi Stroud speak with Jane O’Dwyer about growing a culture of trust and leadership.

Eat like the Animals
David Raubenheimer & Stephen J Simpson in conversation with Charlotte Wood

Presented by: National Museum of Australia
Time: 12.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Category: Streamed only
Price Details: All tickets $10*


A baboon, a cat and a locust instinctively know what to eat for balanced nutrition but humans can’t work it out. David Raubenheimer and Stephen J Simpson have transformed the science of nutrition with their research into the appetite of animals. They take award-winning novelist Charlotte Wood from jungle to laboratory to kitchen, to understand how and why we eat.

A Very Personal Conflict
Colum McCann In Conversation with Caroline Baum

Presented by: The Molonglo Group
Time: 2.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Category: Streamed only
Price Details: All tickets $10*

Inspired by a friendship between two fathers, a Palestinian studying the Holocaust and an Israeli against the occupation, these men are divided by conflict yet united in grief, both having lost their daughters. McCann, from Dublin, joins journalist Caroline Baum to discuss his epic New York Times bestseller, hailed the year’s masterpiece.

William Dalrymple: The Anarchy
William Dalrymple in conversation with John Zubryzcki

Presented by: Museum of Australian Democracy
Time: 4.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Category: Streamed only
Price Details: All tickets $10*


Acclaimed historian William Dalrymple’s energetic retelling of the rise of the East India Company was one of Barack Obama’s favourite books of 2019. It tells the extraordinary history of the company as a forerunner of modern multinationals intertwined with the modern state that was “too big to fail”. Dalrymple discusses with author John Zubrzycki one of history’s greatest stories and the devastating results from an abuse of corporate power.

Sleepers Wake, Now!
Featuring Barry Jones

Presented by: Museum of Australian Democracy
Time: 6.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: Museum of Australian Democracy, Members dining room
Category: Streamed
Price Details:
Livestream: All tickets $10*

 

 

When Sleepers, Wake! first published in 1982, Deng Xiaoping and Bill Gates read it, which led to Jones being the first Australian minister invited to address a G-7 summit meeting. Nearly four decades on, Barry Jones talks with about the post-truth era and the challenge of increasingly fragile democracies and public institutions.

*A $5.95 transaction fee per transaction applies

Saturday 15 August

The Passion of Prague
Richard Fidler in Conversation with Simon Winchester

Presented by: ACT Government
Time: 10.30am
Duration: 60mins
Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre
CategoryLive and streamed – STANDARD EVENT
Price Details:
Adult: $25.00*
Concession: $20.00*
Junior: $15.00*
Livestream: All tickets $10*

The inimitable Simon Winchester turns the microphone around on beloved broadcaster, Richard Fidler and interviews him on the magical city that is Prague. From its origins in medieval darkness via the Velvet Revolution to an uncertain present, this is an unmissable conversation between two passionate storytellers.

Is China telling the Truth?
Rory Medcalf and Richard McGregor moderated by Professor Jane Golley

Presented by: Australian National University
Time: 12.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre
CategoryLive and streamed – STANDARD EVENT
Price Details:
Adult: $25.00*
Concession: $20.00*
Junior: $15.00*
Livestream: All tickets $10*


The rise of China is one of the biggest and most pivotal stories of our generation. And yet relations with our largest trading partner continue to plummet with Australia being put in the deep freeze after calling out Beijing for exercising undue influence in our polity and for launching massive cyberattacks against our vital institutions. Can relations with the communist superpower recover? Or is Australia destined to become an enemy of the State?

The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Heather Morris in conversation with Juliet Rieden

Presented by: Australian National University and The RiotACT
Time: 2.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre
Category: Streamed
Price Details:
Livestream: All tickets $10*

The Tattooist of Auschwitz has sold over three million copies worldwide and the recently published sequel, Cilka’s Story, is also a global bestseller. Both books blend fiction with fact. Heather Morris talks with journalist and writer Juliet Rieden about memory, history and how to respect both when writing historical fiction.

Why does it take a Catastrophe?
Rebecca Huntley, Dr Liz Allen and Peter Greste moderated by Dr Norman Swann

Presented by: Australian National University
Time: 4.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre
CategoryLive and streamed – STANDARD EVENT
Price Details:
Adult: $25.00*
Concession: $20.00*
Junior: $15.00*

Livestream: All tickets $10*



Why do we have to wait for a catastrophe – environmental or political – to wake up? Where are our leaders and what does leadership today really mean? How and why did we get it so wrong? At a critical time in world affairs, how do we build an enduring legacy to secure our nation for generations?

Stella Prize 2020: See what you made me do
Jess Hill in conversation with Rick Morton

Sponsored by: The Stella Prize
Time: 6.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre
CategoryLive and streamed – SPECIAL EVENT
Price Details:
Adult: $25.00*
Concession: $20.00*
Junior: $15.00*

Livestream: All tickets $10*


“It’s not a crime to demand that your girlfriend no longer see her family. It’s not a crime to tell her what to wear, how to clean the house and what she’s allowed to buy at the supermarket…” 

Jess Hill’s ground-breaking book on domestic abuse See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse was a bold choice for the 2020 Stella Prize. Hill goes behind the facts and figures and explains how we can confront this national crisis and drastically reduce the violence today.

*A $5.95 transaction fee per transaction applies

Sunday 16 August

Following up a best seller: Richard Fidler and Rick Morton
Richard Fidler and Rick Morton in conversation with Sacha Horler

Presented by: ACT Government
Time: 10.30am
Duration: 60mins
Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre
CategoryLive and streamed – STANDARD EVENT
Price Details:
Adult: $25.00*
Concession: $20.00*
Junior: $15.00*
Livestream: All tickets $10*

Actor and book podcaster Sacha Horler speaks with award-winning authors, Richard Fidler (Ghost Empire) and Rick Morton (100 Years of Dirt), about writing the follow-up to a bestseller and the weight of expectation.

Silence Please!
Christine Jackman in conversation with Sabra Lane

Presented by: Museum of Australian Democracy
Time: 12.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: Museum of Australian democracy: Members dining room
CategoryLive and streamed – STANDARD EVENT
Price Details: 
Adult: $25.00*
Concession: $20.00*
Junior: $15.00*
Livestream: All tickets $10*



Christine Jackman’s personal quest for a better way of being is a timely exploration of what happens to our brains, our lives and our communities in a world noisier than ever before. What have we learned from ISO? Moderated by journalist Sabra Lane.

The End of Privacy
Toby Walsh, Ellen Broad & Sacha Molitorisz moderated by Karen Middleton

Presented by: Museum of Australian Democracy
Time: 2.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: Museum of Australian democracy: Members dining room
Category: Live and streamed – STANDARD EVENT
Price Details: 
Adult: $25.00*
Concession: $20.00*
Junior: $15.00*
Livestream: All tickets $10*



In an increasingly digital world, what are the ethical effects of big tech’s algorithmically mediated architectures? Are we in denial about surveillance? How do we safeguard our privacy? Data ethics and the meaning of privacy today.

Alain de Botton’s School of Life
Alain de Botton in conversation with Caroline Baum

Presented by: The Molonglo Group
Time: 4.30pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: National Museum of Australia, Discovery Centre
CategoryLive and streamed – STANDARD EVENT
Price Details: 
Adult: $25.00*
Concession: $20.00*
Junior: $15.00*
Livestream: All tickets $10*

Live event currently sold out. Tickets for the livestream are still available.

A Financial Times journalist once remarked: “Sometimes it can feel like it’s a de Botton world and we’re just living in it”. Writing on love, travel, architecture and literature, de Botton is a bestseller in 30 countries. Journalist Caroline Baum will get to the bottom of de Botton, his emotional education and what’s at the heart of a fulfilled life.

Closing night: Girls’ Night In
Featuring The Hon Julie Bishop, Jean Kittson, Bridie Jabour and Chris Ryan

Presented by: Australian National University
Time: 6.30pm
Duration: 90mins
Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre
Category: Live and streamed – SPECIAL EVENT
Price Details:
Livestream: All tickets $10*

Live event currently sold out. Tickets for the livestream are still available.


Girls’ Night In closes the 2020 Canberra Writers Festival with four talented women sharing observations on the whimsy of life – and the meagre role of men. These dames will chew the fat on literature, fine art, music and aged cognac. Kick off your heels (boys too) and celebrate a one-of-a-kind writers’ festival.

*A $5.95 transaction fee per transaction applies

COVID-19 Update: 22 July

The Canberra Theatre Centre Box Office is open to the public, and we will begin hosting limited-capacity performances in August. For a list of rescheduled or cancelled performances click here. Affected ticket holders will be contacted by the Box Office.

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