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Ignite your senses with Melbourne Writers Festival's Book of Fête: Chapter Four

“I’m trying to bring a playful party element to it. There’s going to be a lot more music, performance, theatre – exploring the different ways words can connect us.”

The annual Melbourne Writers Festival is a celebration of the art of literature, with some of the world’s greatest wordsmiths and thinkers hosting discussions and shedding light on their craft. Founded in 1986, the roots of MWF lay in sharing knowledge for readers and writers alike, though this year the festival has added something everyone can get excited about with The Book of Fête series.

The Book of Fête is a collection of monthly events hosted in partnership with local art collective and theatre-makers, The Boon Companions, which will take place in the lead up to the festival, which kicks off in August. Each event hones in on a unique theme. They each take place at different locations and boast a smorgasbord of special guests – not limited to those within the realms of the literary world.

The series comes as part of MWF’s new Artistic Director, Marieke Hardy’s mission to breathe new life into the beloved festival. Under her creative direction, The Melbourne Writers Festival will be more immersive than it’s been in previous years, something The Book of Fête will attest to in spades, and Hardy hopes to introduce more creative, unconventional, and interactive ways of exploring ideas and stories.

The Book of Fête is a series of theatrical literary events designed to give our audiences a taste of what’s to come at this year’s MWF,” Hardy says. “I’m trying to bring a playful party element to it. There’s going to be a lot more music, performance, theatre – exploring the different ways words can connect us.”

Although, essentially, the festival is a celebration of words, sometimes silence can say more than even the most eloquent of sentences, which is a theme that will be explored through the fourth instalment of The Book of Fête series: Chapter Four.

Hosted at the State Library of Victoria, Chapter Four will see attendees taking a vow of silence upon entry; swapping chit-chat for an evening spent exploring non-verbal communication and getting in touch with their other senses through live music and art.

“Chapter Four is being held at the State Library of Victoria, where you can experience iconic spaces like the Dome and the Courtyard while partying along to live music from three amazing bands – in total silence,” Hardy says. “We’re asking audiences to leave their voices at the door, then drink, dance and practice the art of non-verbal communication.”

The bands in question showcase a diverse mix of genres to ignite the senses, with disco sextet Sugar Fed Leopards bringing the party vibes, mini-orchestra Tek Tek Ensemble delivering an eccentric display of musical dexterity and Toga Rock introducing some gutsy groove into the evening. Through taking the vow of silence, it’s hoped that the audience will truly experience the music, both through engaging with the performances and responding to the music without the use of words or sound.

In addition to these three live performances, Chapter Four will also host another musician renowned for her vocal talent, Kate Miller-Heidke – though the evening won’t see her pipes at play. Miller-Heidke will be participating in a still-life drawing workshop in which she will adhere to the no speaking rule by playing the silent statue as attendees pick up their pencils.

The aim of this string of events is to demonstrate the power of words, writing and communication in each and every form, not only to showcase the many ways in which words bring colour and meaning into our lives, but to encourage those who may not usually be enticed to partake in Melbourne Writers Festival to come along and experience the festival offerings for themselves. 

Chapter Four is the latest taste of The Book of Fête series, which promises to be full of inventive and immersive activities whose enjoyment is not restricted to diehard word-lovers. The series exhibits Hardy’s creative input into the festival as its new Artistic Director, providing a promising glimpse of the festival’s future.

“I wouldn’t know how to make a conventional writers festival even if I was forced to go to university and get a degree in Conventional Artistic Direction for Literary Festivals,” she says. “So I guess I’ll stick to what I know, and create left-of-centre experiential artistic events.”

Book of Fête: Chapter Four will take place at the State Library of Victoria on Friday May 25, produced by Melbourne Writers Festival. Tickets are available here.