We ask Katherine Dorrington, program manager of the Perth Writers Festival, for her top picks from a star-studded program.



1. Hilary Mantel in Conversation

The author of genre-busting historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies will be making history herself when she is beamed into the Perth Concert Hall from her London home for a real-time ‘in conversation’ event with Radio National’s Michael Cathcart. Her towering literary stature – she’s been touted for a possible third Booker for the final volume in her Tudor-period trilogy – will lend some serious star power to the four-day festival. If Mantel can’t bring up the bodies to PWF, nobody can. Perth Concert Hall, February 21.

2. Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity

The 2006 memoir Eat Pray Love, penned by US author and adventuress Elizabeth Gilbert, quickly became something of
a bible for women navigating the frustrations of marriage and middle age. To date, it has sold upwards of 10 million copies (and, we’re guessing, inspired nearly as many overseas trips). Elizabeth will be appearing as Act II of the Perth Concert Hall event, which is impressive no matter which way you look at it. Her topic will be ‘Creativity’, and among other things she’ll discuss the kind of writer’s block only she (and possibly JK Rowling) could ever truly understand: the kind that comes after an intergalactic smash hit that you fear you will never, ever top. Or will you? Perth Concert Hall, February 21.


3. Bryan Stevenson:
Closing Address

We weren’t surprised to learn that Atticus Finch, the protagonist in Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill
A Mockingbird is the fictional hero of Bryan Stevenson: like his literary alter ego, Stevenson is a lawyer and crusader for human rights. Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson will discuss his work as a defendant
of those most in need. Octagon Theatre, February 22.





When we say you must see Black Diggers, please note it’s not a suggestion – it’s an order. An ode to the Indigenous soldiers who fought on the battlefields of Europe, this play represents a national narrative that not nearly enough of us know about. That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining: it’s funny and moving, with a lightness of touch that belies its theme. “The storytelling is crisp, it’s exciting, it’s dynamic, it’s beautiful, it’s emotive and expressive. It’s great theatre and a cracking night out,” says Jonathan. “There are moments of great comedy but also great tragedy, as with much classic theatre.” After acclaimed seasons in Sydney and Brisbane, the play has already scored a place as a modern classic. Heath Ledger Theatre, March 3-7.


In 1980, a wall of protestors stopped a procession of drilling trucks at Noonkanbah Station, which set in motion a new direction for Aboriginal land rights. But 34 years later, how far have we really come? A multi-layered dance piece by Marrugeku explores this theme with notable boldness of expression. Beautiful songs by Nick Cave and Ngaiire, and poetry by dream-catcher Edwin Lee Mulligan add to the sense of primitive mystery. The genre-defying piece was a risk, according to Jonathan. “One of the roles of festivals is to take risks, and our audiences go with that,” he says. “Another role is to give the stage to brilliant and imaginative and courageous artists and say ‘explore’.” It paid off. “Marrugeku’s last work was one of the most beautiful dance pieces I saw at the beginning of this year. This will be one of those works that I wouldn’t miss for the world.” Regal Theatre, February 27-March 1.



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