Student Sessions 2021

Student Sessions is presented in partnership with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).

Join some of Australia’s brightest minds for a thought-provoking program of talks, specially curated to complement the school curriculum in ways that educate and enlighten.

Led by highly regarded writers and thinkers across film, poetry, theatre, literature and more at established theatres at Carriageworks, Student Sessions is rich in opportunities for secondary school students. The program builds on students’ classroom learning, extending their capacity for creative and critical thinking and inspiring a deeper understanding of history, society, language and storytelling.

Recommended for Years 9 to 12. 

PROGRAM UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Leah Purcell: After Henry and Patricia Cornelius on the Monologue have unfortunately been cancelled.


10am: Paul Kelly on Poetry 

In a session that explores the transformative combination of poetry and music, hear acclaimed singer-songwriter Paul Kelly recite a selection of poems from his anthology Love is Strong as Death – a number of which he has set to music and will sing live. In conversation with ABC Radio National’s Kate Evans, Paul discusses a collection that spans the ancient and the modern and speaks to two of literature’s greatest themes: love and death – plus everything in between.

Curriculum links: English, Music

EVENT CANCELLATION: 10am: Patricia Cornelius on the Monologue

One of Australia’s most celebrated playwrights, Patricia Cornelius, joins theatre critic Cassie Tongue to discuss the power of a good monologue. Writing authentic dialogue relies on many different ingredients, but how do you write a speech that really brings a play home? How do character, scene and script intersect to deliver a monologue that makes your audience sit up and take note? The award-winning writer behind over 35 plays reveals how to connect actor and voice to the right words.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Patricia Cornelius on the Monologue has unfortunately been cancelled.

Curriculum links: English, Drama

EVENT CANCELLATION: 11.45am Leah Purcell: After Henry 

An Australian classic, Henry Lawson’s ‘The Drover’s Wife’, published in 1892, explores isolated settler life in the Australian outback. Over the last five years, Goa, Gunggari and Wakka Wakka Murri writer Leah Purcell has reimagined the work in multiple forms, breathing new life into the story as a stage play in 2016, a novel in 2019 and a film currently in production. Leah delivers a presentation on the lingering power of Lawson’s work, and how writers can find new ways to tell old stories.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Leah Purcell: After Henry has unfortunately been cancelled.

Curriculum links: English, Drama, History, Aboriginal Studies

10.45–11.45am Break

11.45am To the Point: Short Stories

Short stories conjure up entire worlds of fully formed characters in the space of just a few pages. Accomplished writers of the form, Tony Birch and Adam Thompson join critic Declan Fry to reflect on this singular power, and how it can be used to explore questions of identity, Country and belonging in contemporary Australia. Tony Birch is the celebrated author of four short-story collections: Shadowboxing, Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People. Adam Thompson, an award-winning Pakana writer from Tasmania, had his debut short-story collection, Born Into This, published in February 2021.

Curriculum links: English, Society and Culture, Aboriginal Studies

12.30–1.30pm Lunch break

1.30pm Let Me Persuade You

How can we wield the written and spoken word to convince, cajole and convert an audience? Or detect when we’re being linguistically manoeuvred ourselves? Two masters of persuasion, former Prime Ministerial speech writer Don Watson and Sydney Morning Herald journalist Jacqueline Maley, provide students with a crash course on identifying and analysing the distinct language of persuasion and how it relates to our current media landscape.

Curriculum links: English, Society and Culture

1.30pm An Imagined Past

Join two of Australia’s finest historical fiction authors, Yuwaalaraay writer Nardi Simpson and winner of the inaugural ARA Historical Fiction Prize Mirandi Riwoe, for a masterclass in the research skills needed to craft compelling historical fiction. From finding and interpreting sources to engaging critically with historical bias, Nardi and Mirandi join author Roanna Gonsalves to take students through Australia’s rich and complex past and show how it can be harnessed to create powerful fiction. 

Curriculum links: English, History, Aboriginal Studies


Make sure you book before Friday 23 April to guarantee your spot at this not-to-be-missed event.

You can book tickets to Student Sessions by filling out the online booking form or mailing us the printable version

For more information or if you have any questions contact or call 02 9256 4200.  

For more information about Student Sessions, please contact us:

(02) 9256 4200