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books December 14, 2019

Writer Lindy West

Using her brilliant wit as a tool for political activism, writer Lindy West has fought for social justice issues such as fat liberation and abortion rights. The author of Shrill – now an acclaimed TV series – and The Witches Are Coming speaks about her work. “There’s something intoxicating about being defiant, especially when you start to articulate all the ways in which your life has been made smaller and more difficult by systems of power.”

art December 7, 2019

Performance artist Tania Bruguera

A pioneer of the arte útil movement – in which art goes beyond aesthetics and is a tool for social change – Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera aims to transform audiences through her politically charged work. “I have been fighting not only for my ideas but also to break this illusion that art to be art has to be useless, has to be apolitical.”

books November 30, 2019

Publisher and writer Hilary McPhee

Once a powerhouse of Australian publishing, Hilary McPhee traded the comfortable life she knew for a mysterious job with Middle Eastern royalty. In writing about this adventure and the collapse of her marriage to Don Watson in her new memoir, Other People’s Houses, she traces her strange journey back to herself. “I dreaded coming back to Australia because I left feeling I’d lost everything, I’d lost my marriage. We’d been together for more than 20 years, so it was quite a lot of life.”

film November 23, 2019

Actor Damon Herriman

A screen actor since he was 10 years old, Damon Herriman is all too aware of the precarities in his line of work. He speaks to Steve Dow about the ups and downs of his career and his new film, Judy and Punch. “It has a dark fairytale vibe. You can watch Judy and Punch as an allegory or a feminist revenge tale, or you could watch it as a really entertaining fairytale fable, or both.”

theatre November 16, 2019

Empires of the sons

Packer & Sons looks at the extremes of Australian masculinity through the lens of its two most successful media dynasties. “It would be impossible to stage Packer & Sons, a play about three generations of Packer power, without the Murdochs. The two competing families have brawled, collaborated and defined themselves against each other. The Murdochs are the Greeks to the Packers’ Roman gods.”

film November 9, 2019

An audience with Antonio Banderas

Drawing on his recent experience of a heart attack, as well as his decades-long friendship with director Pedro Almodóvar, Antonio Banderas has produced what may be his finest performance in Pain and Glory. “We hadn’t worked together in eight or nine years, but suddenly he calls me and says, ‘Hey, I’m gonna send you something. You’re going to find a lot of references to people that you and I know.’ And I received Pain and Glory. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it because he was there, it was such an opportunity. So, I went to him as a soldier, as a very, very plain soldier, ready to listen. Really listen.”

books November 2, 2019

Rapper, poet and novelist Omar Musa

Through his one-man show Since Ali Died, Omar Musa has connected with audiences who have experienced ostracism. The rapper, novelist and poet speaks about the power of storytelling and the need for greater nuance in depictions of the Muslim community. “People come up to me after the show. Firstly, there are people really interested in having direct access to a young Muslim man growing up post-9/11. And then, secondly, there are those who relate to the outsider experience. I talk about a very specific intersection of race and religion – but try to make it relatable to all people who might feel a bit different.”

comedy October 26, 2019

Irish comedian and actor Dylan Moran

Almost two decades after the wild success of Black Books, Dylan Moran returns to Australia with a new stand-up show, Dr Cosmos. He talks about finding his place in the world and what a Charlie Chaplin film has to say about modern life. “What was extraordinary to me throughout Modern Times was how inclusive it was. Chaplin was laughing in the most general sense at the way we’re living, what we’re doing to ourselves, how we’re fucking up our priorities, you know? We need a film just like that about now. I think how we live is pretty screwy right now.”

books October 19, 2019

The cultural insights of Jia Tolentino

Jia Tolentino has been dubbed the ‘voice of a generation’, a blogger turned New Yorker writer whose journalistic musings traverse everything from vaping to religion. She talks about the art of literary exploration and her much-anticipated debut book, Trick Mirror. “One of the reasons I write so much is that I’m not so good at thinking about things as they’re happening. Unless I’m writing about something, it’s not often that I’m analytically clear about my own present reality. I tend to just wander through it and hope that I will make sense of it later.”

television October 12, 2019

Fantasy bestseller Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman found fame in the 1990s with the His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy. Now, the children who grew up with the heroine, Lyra, can revisit her as an adult in The Secret Commonwealth. The author talks about having his work adapted for the small screen, the dangers of single vision and the allure of dust. “We know we’re conscious, but philosophers are still struggling with what David Chalmers calls ‘the hard problem’ – how do we get from matter to consciousness? Once you accept that consciousness is a normal property of matter, and that everything is, in however dim and rudimentary way, conscious, everything becomes clearer. This is the question towards which The Book of Dust is working.”

dance October 5, 2019

Chinese cultural hero Yang Liping

At age 60, dancer and choreographer Yang Liping is still going strong, determined to keep the cultural traditions of China’s ethnic minorities alive. She speaks about her 50-year career and her striking new version of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. “I want to fill the movement with traditional culture and art to make it more solid, more relevant, and more how I think contemporary dance should be.”