#Three Jerks offers a different perspective on a heinous crime

Three Jerks“Dark legacy of Skaf crimes” headlines a Sydney Morning Herald story, today, about a hard hitting production coming to Sydney Writers Festival, Wharf Theatre 2, May 24. Michael Mohammed Ahmad has created #Three Jerks with two fellow writers Peter Polites and Luke Carman. They are members of the Bankstown based performance group Sweatshop.

All were at high school when the notorious Skaf gang rapes were committed in western Sydney in 2000. The crimes generated a media frenzy, which Mohammed says demonised young men of Arab-Australian background and portrayed western Sydney as a war zone of ethnic and religious tensions. Simplistic reporting by the media and knee jerk responses from political and religious leaders “messed with the heads” of many young men of related cultural backgrounds, he says. As a result they adopted the caricatures of violence and menace they saw in constant media coverage.

Mohammed and his co-writers and performers argue that there were many more people affected by the crimes than the young women, who were the immediate victims. They are not offering solutions, but striving for recognition of the complexities of issues like these. The production is directed by Roslyn Oades, who recently directed Mohammed in the verbatim theatre production I’m Your Man.

Sweatshop is operating under the wider umbrella of Sweatshop Western Sydney Literacy Movement, based at University of Western Sydney. Founded by Mohammed, the movement is dedicated to achieving equality for western Sydney communities through literacy and critical thinking.

Mohammed and Luke Carman will be part of a wider discussion, The Centre of Sydney, at ICE, Parramatta, May 21, part of Sydney Writers Festival. Bookings.

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Big names at the 2014 Varuna and Sydney Writers’ Festival

VarunaFrom Varuna Writers House, left, tickets are selling fast to this year’s Varuna and Sydney Writers Festival Blue Mountains Program. The main program, featuring national and international authors, will be held at the Art Deco Carrington Hotel on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th May from 10am to 5:30pm plus special evening events from 6-7pm both nights.

Highlights include Richard Flanagan talking with Geordie Williamson about his amazing novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North; and the Irish novelist Emma Donoghue chatting with Kate Fagan about her Booker-nominated novel Room and her intriguing new work Frog Music.

In a session that has created a great deal of interest, Bob Carr will talk with Bob Debus about the latest chapter of his extraordinary career with his controversial new book Diary of a Foreign Minister. In a complete change of subject and pace, and fresh from her appearances on QI, the Danish-English comedian Sandi Toksvig interrogates the history and relevance of modern manners with hilarious results in Peas and Queues. She talks with Stephen Measday on Tuesday at 1:30pm.

One of the standout events in the program is on Monday 19th May at 6pm: this year’s Eric Dark Memorial Lecture, presented by Clive Hamilton. Clive is an eminent Australian author and public intellectual whose books include Growth Fetish, Affluenza, What’s Left: The death of social democracy, Silencing Dissent and Scorcher: The dirty politics of climate change. In this year’s lecture, Clive references his new book Earthmasters, discussing humanity’s options in a rapidly-changing global environment.

Mixing with these eminent national and international authors will be local poets and debut novelists such as Felicity Castagna, Sally Piper and Annah Faulkner, who have been helped by Varuna’s publishing programs. It will be interesting to hear about their progress to publication.
More details, including the full program & how to book tickets, are on the website.

Sydney Writers Festival comes to Katoomba

Varuna the houseAdvance notice from Varuna Writers House (pictured):

Once again Varuna with Sydney Writers’ Festival will feature signature events in the Blue Mountains, centred on the beautifully-restored Art Deco Carrington Hotel.

Please mark these dates in your diary:

The main program, featuring international and national authors, will be held at the Carrington on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th May.

Another highlight will be on the previous day, Sunday 18th with the magical ‘Poetry and Music at the Jenolan Caves’.

And opening at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre on Friday 16 May will be an exhibition of poetry and illustrations inspired by Mountain stories and legends, from the Black and Blue group; along with an exhibition of indigenous stories and artworks: ‘Stories from the Mountains,’ and ‘Stories from the Sea’.

More details, including the full program will be released in early April on the Varuna website: Varuna