The old world homely glamour of the Thornbury Theatre is an apt host to the monthly Women of Letters events. Created and curated by Michaela McGuire and Marieke Hardy, it's a celebration of the lost art of letter writing whilst simultaneously showcasing some fiercely talented women and raising money for Edgars Misson. The theme changes every month along with the performers so each event has a freshness and intrigue. With pub grub available, a fully stocked bar and reception centre layout, you are almost transported to a private club roast from the 60s - not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
We managed to have a quick chat with one half of the team, Marieke Hardy, to give us some background on the event.
CS: How did Women of Letters come about?
MH: Michaela and I really wanted to work together on a female-driven event, and were very inspired by a lot of the writers we met at the National Young Writers Festival in Newcastle. It was also becoming increasingly important to me to start generating some fundraising ideas for animal welfare. We threw around a few thoughts and became very attached to the idea of celebrating the lost art of letter-writing. It has been a beautiful symmetry.
How do you choose/approach the diverse array of women who speak at the events?
We are very careful about making sure there's a mix of people and personalities at each event. We never wanted to have a show with five comedians or five musicians. We also love the idea of including at least one relatively unknown writer whose work we admire and who the audience might not know. Often people come along drawn in by the big name and leave talking about the comparatively small one.
The approach varies - most often we go through management, just out of respect for the process. But if we have a personal 'in' we will always capitalise on it as we are very industrious.
You've already had a Men of Letters event, will there be another one?
Yes, two! One in Sydney and one in Melbourne.
This is obviously a personal and lovingly nurtured project for you. Will you ever read a letter you’ve written? Or are you happy to bask in the radiant words of the other women?
Actually, Michaela made me do one - it was at the aforementioned NYWF in Newcastle, in 2010. I hate public speaking so I chose to do one out of town. It was quite the stressful process, but I'm glad I did it as I know now what we put our long-suffering readers through every month.
As for doing one in Melbourne, I don't think so. The event is about performers and writers and artists that Michaela and I love, and I'm happy to just race around behind the scenes making sure everybody's drink is topped up.
Women of Letters, Reviving the lost art of correspondence will be launched at Bella Union bar at Trades Hall on Monday 24 October.