Zai Zanda

In Partnership with Hana Assafiri, Founder of the Moroccan Soup Bar Art and the Theatre of Narratives: Conversation Salon

Wed 29 Mar 23, 7pm–9.30pm (Booked out)

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Fed Square

Ground Level

Past program
Booked out

Art is what makes us human. It is fundamental to humanity, transporting us beyond the rational, and connecting us with stories that are not our lived experience. Art can also be political, used as a vehicle for activism and positive engagement in conflict settings, challenging and interrogating societal constructs.

As part of Melbourne Now and in celebration of the extraordinary creativity in our city, the NGV partners with community and culinary activist Hana Assafiri and the Moroccan Soup Bar to present a communal dining and conversation salon event, serving a three-course banquet of food and ideas and shining a light on the role of the arts in progressing societies. Come hungry with an open mind, an open heart, and an appetite for a better world.

Includes a Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri and Yorta-Yorta Elder and knowledge holder Aunty Zeta.

Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start.


Moira Finucane was born with a love of creatures, water and fairy tales in Australia. She studied environmental science, specialising in environmental law and World Heritage conservation, before moving into humanitarian development specialising in the area of gender violence. She began creating performance in the underground and alternative scene of the mid 90s; her background driving the creation of a unique performance form; a mash up of cabaret, fairy tale, museology, taxonomy, burlesque and archetype. She is now a ‘national treasure’ in her home country of Australia, creator of one of the world’s most awarded provocative varieties, widely credited with redefining cabaret for a new generation. Her work has been presented worldwide, acclaimed in 13 languages, with 15 theatre awards, and her Fellowships have taken her from some of the world’s most celebrated galleries to the red centre of Australia to Antarctica. With her company Finucane & Smith she works at the edge of Unrealism, creating synaesthetic works that melts artform boundaries; illuminating unique, lesser heard artists and placing audience experience as central to the art.

Samah Sabawi is an author, playwright and poet and a recipient of multiple awards both nationally and internationally. Her theatre credits include the critically acclaimed and award-winning plays Tales of a City by the Sea and THEM. In 2020 Samah received the prestigious Green Room Award for Best Writing in the independent theatre category, and was shortlisted for both the NSW and Victorian Premiere Literary Awards. Samah co-edited along with Stephen Orlov the anthology Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas, and she co-authored I Remember My Name: Poetry by Samah Sabawi, Ramzy Baroud and Jehan Bseiso, edited by Vacy Vlazna, winner of the Palestine Book Award. Host of the webinar/podcast series The Book Room, Samah received a Doctor of Philosophy from Victoria University for her thesis titled Inheriting Exile, transgenerational trauma and the Palestinian Australian Identity.

Zaynab Farah is a Somali Naarm-based spoken word artist. Her pieces explore intricate personal experiences and topics that she’s very passionate about. Zaynab is the 2019 Victorian Poetry Slam champion.

Mama Alto is a performing artist, jazz singer, cabaret artiste and gender transcendent diva. She is a transgender and queer person of colour, living with disability, who works with the radical potential of storytelling, strength in softness and power in vulnerability. She is co-creator of highly acclaimed variety cabaret Gender Euphoria, Australia’s largest ever trans and gender diverse main stage production. She has worked as a diversity, equity and inclusion specialist (including as a consultant, and as former Artist Development Coordinator at Midsumma Festival), as a writer (including for Archer magazine and for publications from the NGV and Queerstories), and a cultural development specialist. Working in service to her diverse communities, she has previously served as the CEO of Transgender Victoria (2021-22) where her advocacy and strategy work continues to grow this important leading organisation for trans and gender diverse equity and wellbeing. She sits on multiple advisory groups to government and industry, and was as a Board Member at Switchboard Victoria (2020-2022).

Allara is a powerful Yorta Yorta winyarr. She is a storyteller, composer, director, producer, musician and soundscape designer. With humour and integrity, Allara uses the double-bass and sound samples from Country to weave textures for healing in her work “I am Sovereign, I am Free”. Allara’s innovative music speaks to Blak justice and sovereignty. Allara was the recipient of the Archie Roach Foundation Award for Emerging Talent (Music Victoria Awards 2021) and is a founding member of Ensemble Dutala. Allara is driven by collaboration and improvisation, inspired to bring language and cultural practice to the forefront of her work. Mentored by matriarchal Songwomen; her Djetja, Dr Lou Bennett AM, Deborah Cheetham AO and anganya Nancy Bates, Allara has become an unstoppable force for love, art, music and transformation, empowered by her yakapna (family) and her Ancestors, dhama yenbena (old people).

Sista Zai Zanda (Sista Zai/Achihera) is an Afrofuturistic Storyteller. Sista Zai was born in Harare, Zimbabwe and raised in a large extended family. Achihera is Karanga and now lives as a Black African settler on Kulin Nations. Amongst career highlights, Achihera is a 2019 recipient of the Neilma Sidney Travel Fund and a recipient of a Melbourne Strategic Scholarship to research for a PhD in Afrofuturisms at the University Of Melbourne.

General enquiries

Ph +61 3 8620 2222
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