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Sydney Writers’ Festival – Live and Local

Sat 1 May

Sydney Writers’ Festival is returning to The Music Lounge.

One of Australia’s best-loved forums for literature, ideas and storytelling, Sydney Writers’ Festival will be streaming its headline events from Carriageworks in Sydney direct to The Music Lounge on Saturday 1 May.

Prepare to be engaged by conversations, debates and discussions, as the Festival brings the world’s finest authors to The Music Lounge in real time. As well as hearing new ideas from great thinkers, audiences have the opportunity to participate in Q&A sessions at each event, sending questions direct to the stage.

9:30am – Welcome from The South Coast Writers Centre

10am – Barrie Cassidy and Friends: Opposition and Dissent (streamed)

11:10am – Kate Holden in Conversation with Meredith Jaffe: The Winter Road (live)

12pm – Isabel Wilkerson: Caste (streamed)

1:10pm – Joshua Lobb & Lily Hayman: From The flight of the Birds to Fledgling (live)

2pm – Sarah Krasnostein in conversation with Helen Garner (streamed)

3:10pm – Catherine McKinnon & Leland Kean: Storyland in adaptation (live)

4pm – Richard Flanagan & Laura Tingle (streamed)

A note about the venue:
Please note that while we are operating in accordance with the NSW Public Health order, and at reduced capacities, The Music Lounge is a smaller, more intimate venue, and the audience is seated close together.

SWF Stream Session 1 - Barrie Cassidy and Friends: Opposition and Dissent

Participants: Barrie Cassidy, Scott Ludlam, Magda Szubanski, Sally McManus
time: 10am – 11am

Barrie’s back! Festival favourite and celebrated journalist Barrie Cassidy presents four big conversations on the issues of the day. Joined by a range of experts and colleagues, this is smart, analytical and challenging live journalism from one of the best.

What does it mean to live your politics? Is a life of protest and dissent good for the soul or is it soul destroying? Former deputy leader of the Australian Greens Scott Ludlam was a senator from 2008 to 2017. Scott speaks to Barrie about his new book Full Circle, which explores a new approach to political and environmental change.

Barrie and Scott are then joined by Magda Szubanski to discuss the triumphs and disappointments of activism and advocacy, and Sally McManus to share the challenges and advantages of expressing dissent from an institutional base.

Live - Kate Holden in Conversation with Meredith Jaffe: The Winter Road

Participants: Kate Holden, Meredith Jaffe
Time: 11:10am – 11:50am

The Winter Road is an epic true story of greed, power and a desire for legacy from acclaimed Australian storyteller, Kate Holden. Is our time on this soil a tale of tragedy or triumph – are we reaping what we’ve sown? Kate Holden brings her discerning eye to a gripping tale of law, land and inheritance.

SWF Stream Session 2 - Isabel Wilkerson: Caste

Participants: Isabel Wilkerson
Time: 12pm – 13pm

Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Lies that Divide Us fast became one of the world’s most talked about books this past year for its clear-eyed survey of the unspoken social hierarchy that pervades history and our lives today. Drawing parallels between America, India and Nazi Germany, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author argues that race and class divisions are largely informed by a powerful, unacknowledged caste system that everyone knows in their bones. Join Isabel, who will appear live via video, in conversation about the myths of meritocracy, the endurance of white supremacy and what we can do to dismantle the corrosive social hierarchy that persists throughout the world today.

{Supported by ARA.}

Live - Joshua Lobb & Lily Hayman: From The flight of the Birds to Fledgling

Participants: Joshua Lobb, Lily Hayman
Time: 1:10pm – 1:50pm

Works of literature move from the page into all sorts of other forms of art; in doing so, they become new works of art in their own right. In this session novelist Joshua Lobb discusses the adaptation of his novel The Flight of Birds into the play Fledgling with emerging playwright Lily Hayman.

SWF Stream Session 3 - Sarah Krasnostein in conversation with Helen Garner

Participants: Sarah Krasnostein, Helen Garner
Time 2pm – 3pm

After the runaway success of Sarah Krasnostein’s debut The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster, Sarah spent time in Australia and the US talking to six extraordinary people who held fast to a belief even though it rubbed against the grain of conventional wisdom. Her research culminated in The Believer: Encounters with Love, Death & Faith, a deeply humane and deftly drawn enquiry into the power of belief. Sarah is joined by fellow observer of human nature, Helen Garner, to explore what we believe in and why – from ghosts and UFOs to God and the devil, to dying with autonomy and beyond.

{Thanks to Rosie Block.}

Live - Catherine McKinnon & Leland Kean: Storyland in adaptation

Participants: Catherine McKinnon, Leland Kean
Time: 3:10pm – 3:50pm

Award-winning writer and playwright Catherine McKinnon discusses the process of adapting her novel, Storyland for the stage with Merrigong Artistic Development Director, Leland Kean.


SWF Stream Session 4 - Richard Flanagan & Laura Tingle

Participants: Richard Flanagan & Laura Tingle
Time: 4pm – 5pm

Richard Flanagan’s latest book The Living Sea of Waking Dreams offers a tender, haunting portrait of a world disappearing around us. With Laura Tingle, he reflects on capturing in words the things we’re losing.

{Supported by ARA.}

We are committed to delivering safe & enjoyable performing arts experiences.

Our venues and events are operating under COVID Safety measures in accordance with NSW Health guidelines. For more details, visit

Coming Up…