In her new book on anaesthesia, journalist Kate Cole-Adams looks at the facts, and explores the enigma of this mysterious medical practice – interweaving scientific and historical research with personal experience to present a haunting meditation on memory, paralysis and consciousness.

How common is it for patients to ‘wake up’ during surgery? Is pain still pain if you can’t feel it? And what do we know about consciousness, anyway? Joined by a specialist anaesthetist Tim McCulloch, from Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Kate will broach these questions and more. Hosted by Benjamin Law.

Responding to a central idea from the conversation, Belvoir Artistic Director Eamon Flack will close the evening with a performance. 

Presented in partnership with The Wheeler Centre and Belvoir.

Monday Conversations: Each month, join us at Belvoir for a focussed exploration of one idea. After the discussion, we’ll close with a performance or reading – illuminating or responding to a central idea from the night’s conversation.


Kate Cole-Adams (Australian )


Kate Cole-Adams is a writer and journalist. She lives with her family in Melbourne and works part-time training reporters at The Age newspaper. She has previously worked for publications including The Sydney Morning Herald and Time Australia Magazine where she was a senior writer. Her novel, Walking to the Moon, was shortlisted in the Unpublished Manuscript section of the 2006 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and published by Text in 2009. Anaesthesia is her second book. She writes very slowly. 

Tim McCulloch (Australian )


Tim McCulloch is a specialist anaesthetist at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and also does regular anaesthetic work in developing countries. He has particular expertise in monitoring brain function during surgery. Besides his professional role rendering patients unconscious, Tim has a longstanding amateur interest in the mysteries of consciousness itself. 

Eamon Flack (Australian)

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Eamon Flack is the artistic director at Belvoir. He has worked as a director, actor, writer and dramaturg for companies including Belvoir, Melbourne Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, Bell Shakespeare’s Mind’s Eye, Perth International Arts Festival and Darwin Festival. He has directed more than ten plays for Belvoir, including The Bling Giant is Dancing, Twelfth Night, The Great Fire and The Glass Menagerie, which was awarded Best Play at the 2015 Helpmann Awards.

Benjamin Law (Australian)

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Benjamin Law is a journalist, columnist, TV screenwriter and author of two books – The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012). Both were nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards. The Family Law is now an AACTA-nominated TV series for SBS.