The Festival of Questions

Things to do, Talks and discussions
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Festival of Questions speakers
Photograph: Supplied L-R: Jordan Raskopoulos, Shen Narayanasamy and Lauren Duca

Watch some of the country’s sharpest voices wrestle with the spikiest current issues at the Wheeler Centre’s day-long series of talks and debates

In times as confusing and dangerous as these, it can be tempting to retreat into an echo chamber of like-minded peers, or even to attempt to bow out of politics altogether. For one Sunday in October, the Wheeler Centre invites Melburnians to face the state of the world head-on. Running as part of the Melbourne Festival, the Festival of Questions is your chance to join a host of forward-thinking writers, politicians, academics and comedians as they tackle everything from right-wing politics to feminism.

The first session for the day is ‘Questions for the Nation: Melbourne’ (noon-1.30pm), in which each speaker on the panel will make a case for the most pressing issue that they believe Australia needs to confront. You’ll hear from the likes of human rights activist and barrister Julian Burnside, writer Helen Razer and comedian and writer Deborah Frances-White. Once they’ve had their say, it’s over to audience members to bring up the problems that they’re most passionate about – so make sure you come ready to make your case.

Next, dive straight into Trump, Brexit and Pauline Hanson with ‘What is Right? What is Left?’ (2.30-4pm). In this session, prepare to grapple with the world’s evolving political landscape with powerful voices including Liberal MP and former Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, freelance political writer Lauren Duca, political cartoonist Oslo Davis and GetUp! human rights campaign director Shen Narayanasamy.

Feeling fired up about the state of the world? Then head to Philosophical Fight Club (5-6.30pm) and watch intellectual heavyweights including Night Games author Anna Krien, comedian, musician and writer Jordan Raskopoulos and writer and activist Celeste Liddle battle it out over big questions around citizenship, identity politics and more.

The final event, ‘What the Hell? The Handmaid’s Tale in 2017’ (7.30-9pm) is for anyone who came away from the new HBO adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel with a deeply unsettling feeling that this dystopian story is all too relevant to our world. An impressive panel of women and gender-diverse thinkers, including Deborah Frances-White, Celeste Liddle and academic and author Quinn Eades, will pick apart key scenes from the series in relation to contemporary feminism.

Individual tickets are $20 each, and full day passes are available for $60.

Check out our Melbourne Festival 2017 highlights hit list, and our Melbourne Festival Feasts guide.

By: Rose Johnstone

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