Starting in October, Monday Conversations will be held every month at Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre to explore a central idea that is relevant to Australia’s evolving political and cultural landscape.

The hour-long conversations will explore the facts and enigmas on topics such as anaesthesia, Australia’s relationship with alcohol, human rights and justice. Each event will conclude with a performance or reading that responds to the ideas raised in the conversation.

Panel discussions will be hosted by journalist and screenwriter Benjamin Law, and acting CEO of the Women’s Justice Network and ex-prisoner Kat Armstrong. They will be joined by journalist Kate Cole-Adams, author Jenny Valentish and barrister Julian Burnside.

“(These talks) have the potential to bring difficult, or potentially difficult, complex and taboo topics into public consciousness,” says Cole-Adams. “Often (with) these topics, the minute you start talking about them, people are really fascinated because they haven’t really talked about them before.”

Tickets to the first three conversations are on sale now, priced at $15 for concession and $19 for adults.

Cole-Adams will frame the discussion around anaesthesia, pain, consciousness, memory and paralysis. Provocative questions will be raised, from whether pain is still pain if you can’t feel it, to whether information can be processed in an anaesthetised brain. Cole-Adams has recently written a book on anaesthesia, and will combine scientific research and personal experience to explore the mystery of unconsciousness – the place anaesthetics send patients during surgeries. “Although most of us will have at least one anaesthesia during our life time, if not many, we tend not to think about them. Most of us find it quite alarming. (Anaesthesia is) a blank spot in the psyche. I’m all for making it less blank,” she says.

Monday August 21, 6.30pm–7.30pm

Alcohol and Us
Valentish will explore the paths people take in and out of alcohol addiction for a fresh discussion about Australia’s changing relationship with drinking. She will discuss the immense difference between the experiences of women and men when it comes to substance abuse and treatment, and will look at the side effects of a country becoming increasingly aware of the social and public health costs of drinking.

Monday September 18, 6.30pm–7.30pm

Doing Justice
Barrister Julian Burnside, who specialises in both commercial litigation and human rights law, will lead a panel conversation about justice – what it means to him and what it should mean for all of us. Burnside will draw on his long-running commitment to justice and spotlight issues surrounding asylum seekers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Monday October 9, 6.30pm–7.30pm

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