I thought I’d share a bit about a bookish event I am passionate about: Stories on Stage. I created this event for Koorliny Arts Centre in Perth’s southern suburbs in 2012, as much from a desire to share my love of books, as one to bring authors and literary events to an area known for its high unemployment, socio-economic disadvantage and poor literacy and numeracy levels. Working in an arts centre with a strong theatre focus, I wanted literature, as one of ‘the arts’, to have a little more focus. Thankfully, the boss said “Yes” and a small event, Meet the Author, was born. It was simple – an author talk, a Q & A session, supper (with home-baked treats) and a book signing.That first year hosted:
- Bevan McGuiness;
- Meg McKinlay and Kyle Hughes-Odgers;
- Loretta Hill;
- Alan Carter;
- Natasha Lester;
- Sara Foster;
- Deborah Burrows;
- Liz Byrski;
- Carina Hoang; and
- Kaisa and Stan Breeden.
The event started off slowly, but soon established a core group of regulars, thanks to the resident book clubs, some fellow book lover friends, and a group who hired a bus to come along. In 2013, I decided to up the ante and move the event from the small studio rooms (or wherever we could fit) into the centre’s beautiful 240-seat theatre, and rename the event Stories on Stage. Other centre commitments meant I could only run five Stories on Stage events that year, but I was rewarded with a growing group of ‘regulars’. Authors involved in 2013 were:
- Kim Scott;
- Zelie Bullen;
- Rachael Johns;
- Dawn Barker; and
- Fiona Palmer.
So, now it’s 2014 and Stories on Stage is attracting increasing media interest and a bigger audience. It’s not huge – 40-50 people – but I like the intimacy this brings. I have a great year planned, with a few variations just to keep the interest. There’s still an author talk, a Q & A session, supper (with home-baked treats) and a book signing, but sometimes two authors are involved, or music is woven in … check out the plan for 2014:
- February 2014: Amanda Curtin and Ian Reid – historical fiction writers chatted to each other and the audience about research;
- April 2014: Stephen Scourfield and Jesse Deane – a musical reading. Stephen, an author and travel editor of The West Australian, read from his book Beautiful Witness while Jesse played saxaphone.
- June 4: Ros Thomas, columnist for The West Australian will chat about her new book.
- July 23: Poet Annamaria Weldon will be interviewed by The West Australian books editor Will Yeoman.
- October 15: Authors Annabel Smith and Kirsten Krauth – TBC.
- November 19: Michelle Diener talks about her historical novels.
All the authors who have taken part in Stories on Stage have commented on the wonderful sense of community they feel at the centre – it’s warm, inviting, informal and friendly, they tell me. You can imagine how warm and fuzzy it makes me feel to organise an event like this. I’m able to share my passion and provide an opportunity for locals to meet people they would not ordinarily be able to meet; in the warmth of a small community theatre, they are encouraged to have reading conversations that often linger for some time afterwards.
I will be looking for authors to take part in 2015, but I will make it clear upfront that the centre has a tight budget and cannot cover accommodation or airfares (which is why WA authors are represented so highly). A fee is paid to authors and is the same for each one. I usually make contact with publishers to arrange spots, but if you’re an Australian author who’d like to express interest, just complete the contact form below.
Here’s some feedback from authors and you can read more testimonials here:
“What a treat to be with not only an enthusiastic, interested, engaged and generous audience, but also in such a wonderful facility. The presentation at Koorliny Arts Centre was truly a moment where everything came together beautifully – the people and the place, and for, me, the combination of a words-and-music performance, and then a more formal “talk” about travelling and writing, which I hadn’t done before. ” – STEPHEN SCOURFIELD
“Thank you again for inviting me to take part in your wonderful Stories on Stage program for 2014. It was an excellent event, very well organised, and such a lovely audience, too.” – AMANDA CURTIN (Elemental, The Sinkings)
“Stories on Stage was a unique author event experience. I haven’t had one in such a gorgeous environment before and the audience were friendly and full of fabulous questions. To top it all off, the gourmet delights for after the event were mouth-watering. I’d recommend any author do an event with Stories on Stage. – RACHAEL JOHNS (Man Drought; Outback Dreams)
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