Festival Program

Highlight Event

Opening Night: First Hello

Fri 30 Aug, 8pm
SLV, Redmond Barry Reading Room

MWF19 swoons into the arms of Melbourne with its opening night gala, where three heart-connected pairs tell stories of their first hello. Comedian Kitty Flanagan and her younger sister, author and musician Penny Flanagan; globally celebrated children’s book writers and real life partners Andy Griffiths and Jill Griffiths; and poet Omar Sakr with his fiancee, blogger Hannah Donnelly. Followed by heartsploding love songs DJ’d by sex-clown Betty Grumble, while magic-makers The Boon Companions deliver secret romantic missives.


2 hours

Session code





Session Artists

Hannah Donnelly is a writer who explores Indigenous futures, speculative fiction and responses to climate trauma. Her recent work has appeared in Sovereign Words: Indigenous Art, Curation and Criticism, Office of Contemporary Art Norway (2018), ‘Reading Victoria’ Melbourne City of Literature (2018), Acclaim Issue 38 (2018) and more.

Kitty Flanagan is one of Australia's best-known comedians. A writer, performer and control freak, she insisted on narrating her own audiobook. She’s known for her segments on The Project and The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, and in the award-winning ABC show, Utopia.

Penny Flanagan is a Sydney-based writer and musician. She has published three books, most recently Surviving Hal (Puncher & Wattmann, 2019). Her short stories havebeen published in Meanjin, Picador New Writing, Imago and Penguin Summer Stories.

Andy Griffiths is one of Australia’s most popular bestselling children’s authors, having written more than 25 books, including the JUST! books, The Day My Bum Went Psycho and The Treehouse series. Andy is a passionate advocate for literacy and is an ambassador for both the Indigenous Literacy Foundation—which provides books and literacy resources to remote Indigenous communities around Australia—and The Pyjama Foundation, a literacy-based mentoring program for children in foster care.

Jill Griffiths has worked alongside Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton on over 30 of their bestselling books as an editor and co-writer, and is the real life inspiration for the character Jill who lives in a house full of animals on the other side of the forest in the bestselling Treehouse series.

Betty Grumble raptures in the complexity of the woman body as a political and playful site. A feminist contagion and ecosexual, her practice bounces from stage to street, screen to shawomanic ceremony. A mantric wish towards love energy, a war mask and bloody love letter.

Bert LaBonté is one of Australia’s most successful stage and screen actors, having a diverse range of work in both contemporary, classic and musical theatre as well as numerous appearances on TV and film. Most recently he completed Book of Mormon and CloudStreet. On TV he is currently on The Letdown, Mr Black and Wentworth.

Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet from Western Sydney. His debut collection, These Wild Houses, was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize and the Judith Wright Calanthe award. His new book is The Lost Arabs.

The Boon Companions are a romantic and experiential theatre collective who aim to place surprise joy in the hearts of those curious enough to take a journey with them.

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