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Sarah Walker

Sarah Walker

Sarah Walker, a Melbourne-based writer, photographer, and fine artist, was the 2020 ABR Rising Star (Victoria). Her essay ‘Floundering’ was placed second in the 2019 Calibre Essay Prize and appeared in our June–July issue. Her debut essay collection, The first time I thought I was dying, will be released in August 2021 by UQP.

Because the Night: An immersive, choose-your-own-adventure theatre experience

ABR Arts 14 April 2021
It’s the 1980s. Elsinore is a logging town, ruled by troubled royals. The King is dead, Hamlet is paranoid, and Ophelia is having some very strange dreams. Beyond the palace walls, a carnival approaches, the workers are rebelling, and the forest has grown hungry. This is the world of Because the Night, Malthouse’s bold return to performance after the shutdowns of 2020. In the foyer before the ... (read more)

Sarah Walker reviews 'Monsters' by Alison Croggon

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
Alison Croggon has written poetry, fantasy novels, and whip-smart arts criticism for decades, but Monsters is her first book-length work of non-fiction. In this deeply wounded book, Croggon unpacks her shattered relationship with her younger sister (not named in the book), a dynamic that bristles with accusations and resentments. In attempting to understand the wreckage of this relationship, Crogg ... (read more)

'Burn This' (fortyfivedownstairs)

ABR Arts 01 February 2021
Actor Mark Diaco spent ten years trying to secure the rights to Lanford Wilson’s 1987 play Burn This. You can see why. This is theatre that feels good to perform: full of drama, wrenched love, long monologues, and floods of tears. The characters are meaty, the dialogue turbulent, dizzying, and technically complex. These are show-piece roles. They exist, though, in a script whose latent gender po ... (read more)

Sarah Walker reviews 'Sky Swimming: Reflection on auto/biography, people and place' by Sylvia Martin

August 2020, no. 423 27 July 2020
Queer memoir is particularly given to formal play, to unpacking and upsetting the conventions of genre in order to question women’s roles as both narrator and subject. Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (2015) mixes scholarship and bodily transformation. Carmen Maria Machado’s In The Dream House (2019) unpacks the nature of narrative itself to reflect on an abusive relationship. Into this field c ... (read more)

'Contested breath: The ethics of assembly in an age of absurdity' by Sarah Walker

June–July 2020, no. 422 26 May 2020
Listen to this essay read by the author. There’s a script for everything. Someone, voice wavering, says, ‘She’s dead’, and you say, ‘What?’ They say it again, and you say, ‘Oh, my god.’ You ask the usual questions, and then hang up and everything is incredibly quiet. You tell your boyfriend, and you both walk around the house trying to pack useful things: a sleeve of Valium, war ... (read more)

The Great Australian Play (Theatre Works)

ABR Arts 26 February 2020
A play begins its conversation with an audience well before the house lights go down. Marketing images, PR blurbs, interviews – they all launch the process of introducing the work, of situating it in the world. By opening night, the audience is primed. A good production slips seamlessly from the abstract to the real, maintaining a coherent identity from marketing copy to stage. The Great Austral ... (read more)

Gender Euphoria (Arts Centre Melbourne/Melbourne International Arts Festival)

ABR Arts 16 October 2019
In 2018, formidable queer, feminist theorist Amelia Jones gave a lecture at ACCA about gender identity in art. She spoke about transness as containing an inherent denial of resolution; as a state of essential complexity. To be transgender was to revel in the space between definitions, the space where identity refused to coalesce into something comprehensible and static. A state of ceaseless becomi ... (read more)

Oh No! Satan Stole My Pineal Gland! (Melbourne Fringe)

ABR Arts 23 September 2019
Oh No! Satan Stole My Pineal Gland! – almost certainly the best title in this year’s Fringe Festival – is a ridiculous yet rigorous work that demonstrates the wonderful agility of fringe theatre in Melbourne. After nearly twenty years in its North Melbourne hub, the Fringe has moved homes to the newly renovated Trades Hall, and its programming in the venue is particularly exciting this year. ... (read more)

Australian Realness (Malthouse)

ABR Arts 23 August 2019
Australians love a bogan in pop culture. Kath & Kim broke ratings records; The Castle regularly tops lists of favourite local films. This sense of affection for the working class becomes more complex off-screen, when Aussie battlers become ‘cashed-up bogans’ and turn Queensland into a Liberal state; when they start threatening middle-class values; and especially when they gain capital and ... (read more)

2019 Calibre Essay Prize (runner-up): 'Floundering' by Sarah Walker

June–July 2019, no. 412 23 May 2019
I swim at night, carving through water full of chlorine and tasting of mould, turning lap after lap before the pool closes down, while cells inside me hurry into being like bubbles under a running tap. The lifeguard stalks along beside the pool watching me. I know he’s trying to get me out, but I can’t stop swimming. I have to reach sixty laps, because ending on a non-round number is too terri ... (read more)