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By Kath Gannaway

The Yarra Valley is renowned for its great food, wine, music and art … why not its great conversation?
The inaugural Art of Speech Community Festival from 13 to 15 April at The Memo in the heart of Healesville is a packed three days of events aimed at opening up that conversation to all ages.
Hosted by Healesville Toastmasters Club the festival will highlight the opportunity, excitement and fun to be had by embracing the spoken word.
Starting on Friday the 13th with Spooky Story Night, the festival will kick off with a ghoulishly good time. Who doesn’t love a creepy crawly story told by professional storytellers? Dress the part for the chance to win a prize!
Following on is writer and performer Simon Oates’ theatrical performance of “Orpheus in the Underworld”, a contemporary telling of an ancient tale through original songs and narrative. It’s a journey you won’t want to miss.
Throughout Saturday and Sunday a rolling program of events will fill The Memo with workshops, storytelling, games, artists’ talks, a community debate, a Toastmasters demonstration meeting, inspirational speeches, performance poetry, and more.
Highlights include the Storytelling Cave, the Games Room which will showcase modern gaming at its finest with demonstrations and plenty of opportunity to get involved, hear some of Yarra Ranges most articulate, and witty, young people speak out as part of the Junior Speakers segment, while ‘A Strange Business’, an official Melbourne Comedy Festival Event, brings together a wacky degustation meal and an hilarious take on some very questionable occupations!
Heard the expression “get off your soap box”. Well, here’s a chance to get right back on that soap box and give voice to something serious, something funny, or just to share a thought or two!
Exit Theatre will perform ‘Springer’, a monodrama in which the writing brutally highlights the paradox of a simple, naïve man, whose fierceness and strength underlay his success, yet who was indefensible to all that was morally vacuous around him. Performed by Kristof Kaczmarek it is powerful word-theatre.
Workshops include a Women’s Empowerment Workshop, Artful Governance Workshop and the Zines workshop by artist and Toastmaster Bernadette Towan.
Creating Zines is a hands-on approach, suitable for all ages, to finding the unique voice and sharing a story or message in a non-verbal way.
Check out the full program, including a great selection of free events, $5 workshops and other ticketed performances at www.theartofspeechcommunityfestival.org .

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