For those of us who go to talks, audience questions can be a blessing and a curse – sometimes the perfect crisp inquiry, that brings the most interesting answer of the night, and other times a rambling autobiographical nightmare!
In the Concert Hall on Saturday 17 December, Tom Stoppard was moved to quote Neil Gaiman’s perfect definition of a question. The night before, at the Athenaeum in Melbourne, Stoppard and Gaiman were part of an end-of-year double bill for The Wheeler Centre and Neil Gaiman defined for all time the nature of the speaker audience contract:
“A question is a relatively short set of words ending in a question mark, capable of being answered from the stage. If you feel the urge to tell us what you think about something, it’s not a question.”
As a matter of interest, the perfect question of the day at our Tom Stoppard talk was from Rosamund Christie, who asked him if he was to define Hamlet in one word, what would it be? The answer? ‘IF’.
WATCH the full interview with Tom Stoppard at Sydney Opera House.
WATCH interviews with Neil Gaiman from Graphic 2010.