A Mansion of a Conversation

High, ornate ceilings, French polished chiffonieres and magnificent golden-framed mirrors surrounded by windows with alluring garden outlooks and nude wisteria branches were the accompaniment to a night of listening in on a conversation. It was no ordinary conversation, but a very special and unique conversation that some people may still have around their own kitchen tables or in those quiet places where one can be heard.

I sat there like an excited little girl off to her first school excursion – uniform pressed, hair neat, shoes shined and play lunch…well not exactly with the purchase of  “a red wine and one small cheese platter to share please”. People from Melbourne flowed in from the crisp, cool air and found themselves inside a mansion – a grandiose one called Rupertswood. We sat in a warm and comfortable room around large round tables, sipping our drinks and snacking on crackers with soft, gooey cheese while waiting for the conversation to commence.

The conversation centred around two personalities of the art world: Michael Leunig (will they make him a Sir and be done with it please!) and the eloquent and articulate Ms Alice Pung. Both artists seem to have climbed to the top of their “life piles” and are now happily looking out to bright horizons beyond mansion walls. As I listened to the conversation unravel, as MC Bruno so eloquently does with his interviewing manipulation, my mind started to unlock. Bit by bit of conversation that flowed out from the minds and mouths of the two authors hit me bullseye in the heart. Bang! Bingo! Bop! As my mind finally started to melt away, my heart started to smile and bloom wide open like a sunflower welcoming the sun’s early morning rays.

All I could say to myself was that we need more of this type of conversation: those that bring beings together to listen and be open about others’ lives, others’ views, others’ journeys and, ultimately, their own lives. I feel without it I am wretchedly closed and ill-thinking for my own liking. As I listened and I quickly scrounged through the bottom of my handbag to find a pen and jot down a few ideas that were being streamed through the room, I made some notes for me on the back of a flyer. I felt this overriding need to never want to forget this night, this thought, this feeling in a mansion called Rupertswood on a crisp and chilly night in late August, ever. My notes were scribble of words such as expression and repression, art and its process, being unique in a bleak world.

Afterwards, at home as I lay in my warm bed next to my husband, I re-told parts of the conversation that made my heart sing. I re-read these little transcripts on that creased paper and in the silence of our little un-mansion-like bedroom, I knew that the moment had actually passed. The pure energy of the evening was consumed there and then and now it lived in my memory, in my heart.

It is important to keep having these special conversations, to open up your own world through listening in on something: about childhood, writing, art, life, love, beliefs and failures. The opportunity closes up as quickly as a trap closes in on a wild animal. And we can all still be wildly creative human beings, we really just need to show up, listen and be a part of a special kind of conversation.

Lisa J. Cole

Attendee, first Rupertswood Conversation

29 August 2012

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The Stuff of Life

What a wonderful initiative for Salesian College to have Bruno Lettieri and the “Twilight School”! The Twilight School presents us with so many different people and issues to discuss and reflect on. Personally, it has caused me to ponder our humanity, relationships, the meaning of life and the place of God in the everyday. This for me is the “Stuff of Life”: it energises me, encourages me and calls me in my work as a Teacher, Husband, Father and Grandfather to love, forgive and challenge those around me. I highly recommend to you the Twilight School as a place for both reflection and challenge!

Dr Michael Grace

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Community is More

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Fr Bob

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Adventure at your Doorstep

I’m a child of the ’80s and my favourite song lyric is from ‘One Perfect Day’ by Little Heroes. ‘Adventure’s so hard to come by…’ they sang, and it is so true. That’s what I love about the Twilight School. It’s adventure – at your doorstep, among friends and neighbours, in a beautiful, comfortable place  – that takes you out of the everyday, that challenges your abilities and ideas, that dares to suggest ways to re-imagine yourself. Adventure with the potential to create more adventure. What’s not to love?”

Michelle Fincke

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Enquiry and Possibility

The Twilight School sets out to reaffirm the concept of community drawing on the community strengths and substance already in place in Sunbury. The welcoming and open-minded space invites conversation, wit and optimism in and around a venue – Rupertswood Mansion – so intrinsic to the history of Sunbury: dark, opulent and legendary. A spirit of enquiry and possibility permeates those attending the Twilight School – an affirmation to breath up something useful each and every day.

Barry Kennedy

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Conversations and the Power of Healing!

Bruno Lettieri’s Twilight School, held in the historic Rupertswood Mansion in Sunbury, plays host to an appealing variety of events. They are not only educational but are inspiring and often thought provoking – it’s a great place for the community to come together!

Bruno’s In Conversations (my favourite event) have featured guest speakers including Tim Costello, Helen Garner, Father Bob Maguire, William McInnes and Phil Cleary. These intimate yet informal interviews are well researched and skilfully directed by Bruno whilst allowing the audience and speaker to connect – you are invited into the Australian mind and where we are heading (or not) as a nation. Question time inspires us to reflect on our own stories and ask the question, “Can I effect change in our world?”

Bruno handles these interviews with a generosity of spirit and deep respect for his guest and audience which make for a unique experience. Bruno’s In Conversations go everywhere – but you are never lost!

Colin & Mavis Robinson

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A Sunbury Treasure

Twilight School is a brilliant, social, accessible, multi-faceted, mind-expanding Sunbury treasure.

I particularly love going to the evening gatherings with writers, thinkers and all sorts of interesting folk. The atmosphere is welcoming with a country hospitality feel of “bring a plate to share” food to enjoy with a glass of wine, while listening to the stimulating conversation between Bruno and his guest.

So good for mind and soul.

Margaret Blair

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Unique and Inspiring

I just wanted to congratulate you, Bruno, on another successful evening. We are so lucky to have such an amazing venue for such an unique offering, and words fail me to describe except maybe “awe inspiring” and “bloody brilliant”. What an absolutely gorgeous man Richard Franklin is, and what a wonderful interview. I doubt that the courtyard has ever been put to such good use before, an amazing backdrop to an amazing evening. The work, enthusiasm, energy and effort you put into these nights, Bruno, is apparent and greatly appreciated.

I look forward to the next installment and hope more people in our community realise what a gem we have in Bruno and the Twilight school.

Molto bene and molto grazie. (Hopefully translates as “very good” and “thank you very much”!)

Leanne Miller

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A Thriving Community

The Twilight School in Sunbury is a thriving community of writers, singers, poets, gardeners, musicians, chefs, and story-tellers of all kinds.

Belonging to such a community assists us to experience life in a meaningful way – to live passionately with others, avoid isolation, and share our creativity and talents.Community members have a personal responsibility to involve, engage, volunteer and join in.

The Twilight School supports this organic process, and inspires us to trust, respect and support each other.

Dianne Lee

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A Place that Says ‘Welcome’

The Twilight school, a new initiative of Bruno Lettieri, is one of the most ingenious ideas I have had the privilege of being invited to attend. It is a place that says ‘welcome’ to all within the community and beyond.

Everyone who attends gets an opportunity to be a part of  the most productive and nutrient-rich discussions with contemporary writers and people of influence within our community. Reverend Costello, Father Bob, Alice Pung are just a few who have attended so far, but it doesn’t end there. Twilight is expanding in all areas, as we have also enjoyed salsa dancing and a choir formed within a matter of a few weeks and then performing to an appreciative audience: here we got to be the performers! There have also been a few successful vegetable-growing workshops, teaching the students who attend all aspects of being self sufficient, everything from how to create a worm farm to producing nutrient rich soil from a compost heap. We then had a chance to enjoy the spoils with a pizza night made in the rustic pizza oven on site. I remember also having a unique photo walk, where we learnt different aspects of photography and got to share our adventures with each other; an opportunity to win a prize topped it off.

There is no end to the rich soil that this new space has created. The mansion has come alive with the ruminations and sounds of a new community in 2016! Twilight life has breathed new life into the Sunbury community and beyond, and the ripple effect is gaining momentum.  I hope it never ends.

Dawny Healy

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Photo credit: Amanda Piper

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Meeting Points

Through teaching VCAL and overseeing its vegetable growing  enterprise in The Patch, I was drawn to a Good Man Project event as I was searching for ideas and contacts. Farmer Govey was presenting as guest speaker. Farmer Govey turned out to be Declan McGovern, one of my better year 10 students of years gone by. Declan began to be involved in our enterprise in significant ways as a tutor and exemplar of things horticultural. He has been a wonderful asset to our VCAL program.

From those early links, Declan began offering 6 week Grow Your Own programs for the Twilight School, and suddenly there were meeting points and overlap between many programs.  Now there are fertile links between VCAL and Agricultural initiatives and Twilight School. Who would have foreseen these possibilities?

Gerald Carland

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Something for Everyone

The Twilight School is a fantastic initiative. It brings local people into the school, and its amazing grounds, who may otherwise not connect with Salesian College. But more importantly, it recognises the immense value of lifelong learning. The courses and talks on offer are so diverse that there really is something for everyone – from photography to cooking, from dance classes to choirs, from writing courses to gardening to language learning and so much more. The speakers who regularly grace the Twilight School stage offer thought provoking and interesting conversations on a wide range of topics. Sunbury is very lucky to have all this on the doorstep.

Susie Kelly

Photo credit: Amanda Piper

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Such a Unique Offering

What a wonderful initiative the Twilight school has been for our community. I have enjoyed many an event in the beautiful surrounds of Rupertswood mansion and will continue to do so.

The events on offer have been varied and interesting, and they exude a wonderful friendliness and ambiance much attributed by Bruno, the amazing guest presenters and of course the participants.

I feel we are very lucky in our community to have such an unique offering that we can be involved in and learn from, and I thank Bruno for his tireless work to keep providing us with such an opportunity.

So … hope to see you there!

Leanne Miller

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Photo credit: Amanda Piper

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Interact and Connect

The Twilight School really embraces that idea of connecting the college to the wider community. One of the college’s core values, that of “Community”, sums up the essence behind this venture that has been entered into. Over the years that the Twilight School has been operating, the guest speakers, workshops and functions that have been held here at the college have been of enormous value in promoting a community that appreciates its opportunity to interact and connect in a social context.

A great testimony to its success is the number of people here in Sunbury and beyond who would be able to say that they have attended a Twilight School event. Diversity, culture, thought-provoking, topical, and inspirational are just some of the words that come to mind when I think of the Twilight School. I have no doubt that its relevancy and context in the community has a lot to do not just with the hard working efforts given by the Twilight School organiser Mr Bruno Lettieri, but also to members of the community who themselves are wonderful promoters of this great asset.

Stephen Connelly

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An Unmissable Social Event

The Twilight School has become an unmissable social event for my husband Mark and myself. Hooked from the very first speaker, we have been privileged to hear some of our country’s most thought-provoking and inspirational speakers. Not a dinner party goes on at our place without a quote from one or other of the myriad of speakers who graced the stage at the Twilight School. There are so many aspects to treasure about the nights from the supper shared amongst the audience beforehand to the eternal enthusiasm of Bruno and the strong connections that are being formed amongst members of the Sunbury community, namely Sunbury Health. It is a truly magical experience to be part of the wonderful Twilight School.

Melanie Fattore