From today until Sunday, Sydney is playing host to the fourth annual Story Fest, which is presented by Word Travels.

Story Fest is Australia’s largest performing writers’ festival, and its three-day program includes performances, panel discussions, workshops, screenings, a youth program and the finals of the Sydney, New South Wales and Australian Poetry Slams. Those who attend can see a range of events that include poetry, stories, monologues and much more across the festival’s three locations – the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Dance Lounge at Walsh Bay, and The Festival Hub in The Rocks.

“We curate our feature performances, but then the rest of the festival… about 46 out of the 70 artists are actually audience-curated,” Miles Merrill, creative director and founder of Story Fest, tells Theatre People.

“They participate in poetry slams in their own communities, from Wagga Wagga to the Margaret River and every metro space in between… In each of those towns, the regional community chooses two artists to go on to a state final, and then from that state final, they head on to Story Fest. When they get here, we program them across the festival,” he explains.

In this the festival’s fourth year, program highlights include the NSW Slam Final on Saturday, when two poets from 10 NSW regions will compete. Capping off the program on Sunday will be the Australian Poetry Slam National Final, in which two poets from each state and territory will take to the stage at the Sydney Opera House for the chance at a prize pool worth over $15,000.

“One of the things we’ve been really excited about is our feature artist from Montreal,” Merrill says, referring to Tanya Evanson, a poet, performer, producer and director whose credits include four audio recording releases, six artist books of poetry, and an award-winning videopoem.

“She’s not only the director of a spoken word program at the Banff Arts Centre in Canada, [but] she’s also a whirling dervish,” says Merrill. “She combines Sufism and dervish dancing with performance and writing. She’s doing a workshop that explores that.”


Tanya Evanson is the feature artist at Story Fest 2016

Talking about other events on the program, Merrill says, “Some of the events we limit to just 10 or 15 people so that we can counteract the screen culture that people are obviously addicted to at the moment, and try and get people to have a deeper human-to-human connection.”

Interested in checking out some of the events at Story Fest 2016? Here are the details!

When: Friday 14th to Sunday 16th October 2016


  • Sydney Opera House – Bennelong Point, Sydney
  • Sydney Dance Lounge – The Wharf Pier 4/5, Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay
  • The Story Fest Hub, at Abraham Mott Centre – 15A Argyle Pl, Millers Point.

Tickets and Full Program available from