LaBonté takes the lead at national writer’s festival

October 1, 2020 BY

Award-winning Geelong actor Bert LaBont will take on official MC duties at this year's Word for Word National Non-Fiction Festival. Photos: MICHAEL CHAMBERS

THEATRE star Bert LaBonté will play a leading role at this year’s Word for Word National Non-Fiction Festival after being named as official MC of the annual event.

The multi-talented stage and screen actor said he was thrilled to be part of the literary festival as it moved to an online format which will be live streamed across three days from November 20-22.

An impressive line-up of speakers announced today includes former Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Robert Dessaix, Meg Keneally, Heather Morris, Jean Kittson, Virginia Trioli, Louise Milligan, Gary Linnell and many more.

“It’s an unexpected gig for me which is lovely,” LaBonté said.

“I’m very excited to be part of something so fantastic coming out of Geelong.

“Many of the writers are acting colleagues and friends of mine which was also a pleasant surprise – people like John Wood and Francis Greenslade who I have worked with as actors.”

Theatre star Bert LaBonté. Photos: MICHAEL CHAMBERS

The 2020 festival theme is ‘Life, Changing’ and the program features a series of online events encouraging connection and participation, including live conversations, panel discussions, workshops, and special presentations.

In another first for the festival, authors will be joining live from the US, including controversial feminist Mona Eltahawy discussing her latest book The Seven Necessary Sins of Women and Girls.

True crime fans will also be well catered for as Geelong-raised Walkley Award-winning journalist, broadcaster and author Garry Linnell discusses his new book Moonlite.

LaBonté, an avid reader himself, said he had made the most of lockdown by using the extra time to focus on his own writing and flesh out an idea that had been swimming around in his head for a while.

“Through COVID I’ve really stepped up the writing side of things with some scriptwriting,” he said.

“I’ve been writing the first pilot episode for a series I’ve had in my head so it’s coincided beautifully.”

The award-winning thespian has also been in rehearsal for a potential project he is collaborating on with his wife, Amanda, and fellow Geelong-based husband and wife acting duo Simon Gleeson and Natalie O’Donnell.

“It is only in the early stages but it was so nice to be in the Geelong Arts Centre as four humans working together,” LaBonté said.

“It’s the first time in six months I’ve been in a rehearsal with three others actors and it was wonderful.”

Festival director Rochelle Smith said it was fantastic to have LaBonté on board as MC and he was the perfect fit to help bring the exciting new online format to life.

Ms Smith said an added bonus of moving online was being able to bring the program of Australia’s brightest writers and thinkers to an even bigger audience.

“The online program boasts 20 live, online sessions including panels and in conversations sessions,” she said.

“This is an exciting opportunity to deliver a live, engaging Word for Word program that is as challenging, captivating and uplifting as ever.”

Thank you for supporting local journalism!