Come along for a night of provocations as a line-up of thought-stirring writers from Western Sydney and beyond share stories that will challenge your point of view, enliven you, and bring some joy, too. Enjoy an evening of readings and performances and be inspired to start your own conversations over food, drinks and music afterwards. Appearing are Mohammad Awad, Felicity Castagna, Lanneika Denne, Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu, Eda Gunaydin, George Haddad, Ailsa Liu, Sarah Malik, Smitha Peter, and Geneva Valek.
Supported by The City of Parramatta.
This event is produced by The Finishing School with support from The Parramatta Artists' Studios.

Laneikka Denne (Australian)

Laneikka Denne

Laneikka Denne is a queer writer and actor from Western Sydney. At seventeen, Laneikka wrote Dead Skin which premiered at KXT to a sold-out season, published by Australian Plays and the winner of SA State Theatre Company’s Young Playwrights Award. Laneikka’s second play Feminazi premiered as part of Belvoir St Theatre’s Sydney World Pride Programming in 2023. Laneikka was the recipient of the Diversity Entertainment Creative Mentorship 2022, her play Dead Skin was performed in LA and is to be developed into a feature film adaptation of the play. Laneikka’s short screenplay Oi was awarded Open Screenplay’s Best Short Drama Award and is in pre-production in Sydney. Laneikka acted in the national tour of Follow Me Home with ATYP and is currently Sally in Netflix’s Wellmania.

Eda Gunaydin (Australian)

Eda Gunaydin

Eda Gunaydin is a Turkish-Australian essayist whose writing explores class, race, diaspora and Western Sydney. Her essays have appeared in The Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin, The Age, and elsewhere. She has been a finalist for a Queensland Literary Award and the Scribe Non-Fiction Prize. Her debut essay collection Root & Branch (NewSouth Publishing) was published in 2022.

George Haddad (Australian)

George Haddad

Dr George Haddad is a writer and artist practising on Gadigal land. His novella, Populate and Perish, was the winner of the 2016 Viva La Novella competition and his short story Kátharsis was awarded the 2018 Neilma Sidney Prize. George’s debut novel, Losing Face, was published by UQP in 2022. He is currently a sessional tutor at the Writing and Society Research Centre, Western Sydney University.

Ailsa Liu (Australian)

Ailsa Liu

Ailsa (she/her) is a queer Chinese-Australian multidisciplinary artist with a strong connection to Western Sydney. She is interested in themes of cultural practice, liminality, community-building and experimental practices. Ailsa has shared writing, poetry, electronic music, installation and new media work with the world.

Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu (Australian)

Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu

Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu is the author of the anthology series, Breaking Bread, which weaves traditional Pasifika forms of storytelling with contemporary screen arts storytelling. He has directed Untitled: A Life In The Day Of…, with an all Sāmoan cast/crew and wrote the scripts to an 8x part digital series, The Kokos, for the Pasifika Education Centre for children to learn the basics of Sāmoan language. He is a member of the Black Friars Theatre Company and is the founder/creative director of his own independent production company, Satiu Studios – one of few Pasifika-led organisations in Australia that is dedicated to Pasifika stories screen, stage, online and print. Gabriel currently works at the Riverside Theatres in Parramatta as the Program Coordinator – Cinema and Digital and is working on multiple screen projects.

Sarah Malik (Australian)

Sarah Malik

Sarah Malik is a Walkley Award–winning journalist and author working on Bediagal and Dharug land. Her first book Desi Girl: On Feminism, Race, Faith and Belonging is a collection of memoir stories published by UQP. Her second book Safar: Muslim women’s stories of travel and transformation is published by Hardie Grant. Her journalism focuses on gender inequality, immigration and domestic violence. She is passionate about storytelling and voice and believes there is power and freedom in women and culturally diverse people taking control of, and telling their own stories.

Geneva Valek (Australian)

Geneva Valek

Geneva Valek is an emerging autofictive writer that aims to capture the magical moments of everyday life. Her work has been published in the Star Observer, Zinewest, Writing Parramatta, and various anthologies, including Ghost Stories by The Writing Zone collective. In 2022 she was awarded a fellowship at Varuna Writer's House and is currently developing works for film and stage.

Mohammad Awad (Australian)

Mohammad Awad

Mohammad Awad (AKA 3awadi) is a Queer/Arab/Muslim and writer/director/poet/playwright and musician who's running out of ways to express himself. He has written and directed short films such as The Flower, The Messenger and Beauty Marks. Raised in Western Sydney, Mohammad has also been honoured as Australia's National Youth Poetry Champion. Published in an anthology series Arab, Australian, Other as well as The University of Sydney Anthology Diversity, he is also one of the proud editors of the mental health anthology collection – Admissions. He has featured in every iconic West Ball, as well as in the Sydney Mardi Gras, Sydney Living Museums – After Dark, The ICC, Sydney Festival, Weave Youths' Mad Pride Concert, Word in Hand, Red Room Poetry, The Vanguard and Giant Dwarf Theatre. As well as being featured on ABC's hit TV Show Space 22, ABC's The Drum and SBS television, ABC Radio, SBS Radio, Eastside Radio, 2SER and FBI Radio.

Smitha Peter (Australian)

Smitha Peter

Smitha Peter is a Sydney-based writer originally from India. She received her MA in Science Journalism from City University London and is currently working on an autofiction book that draws from her lived experiences, entitled The Sky Turned Red. She has been developing this manuscript as part of Curiousworks' Refugee Artist Development Program.

Felicity Castagna (Australian)

Felicity Castagna

Felicity Castagna has published four novels for adults and young adults including her most recent book, Girls In Boys’ Cars, which received The Queensland and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for YA and is now being adapted for stage and screen. Her previous novel, No More Boats was a finalist in the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Awards and is published internationally by Europa. She has worked with artists in many different fields to produce cross-artform collaborations for Sydney Festival, The National Theatre of Parramatta, The Four Winds Festival, Sydney Opera House and many other places as well as with The Finishing School Collective.