• Dr Margi Brown Ash

What's What.

According to the image above, equality equals sameness and equity equals fairness. It goes on to say that “equality promotes fairness and justice by giving everyone the same thing”. Equity on the other hand is about “making sure people get access to the same opportunities”.

Fairness and justice are important qualities to nurture in our community, making every post a winning post: whenever we have an opportunity to embrace equity, we do it for it is our responsibility to do it as human beings.

As the diagram states “Sometimes our differences and/or history can create barriers to participation, so we must FIRST ensure EQUITY before we can enjoy equality”.

For me, that means as a theatre maker I need to make a deliberate effort publicly to stand for equity by blind casting, embracing difference and providing opportunities, or as in the picture above, providing the ‘boxes’ for people to stand on so that together we can all see.

Its the little things that make a difference. A reaching out, a public acknowledgement that as a community we support diversity, we support equity, we support multiple stories. A public acknowledgement that we all matter.

LaBoite was at the forefront when they embraced Prize Fighter as their contribution to The Brisbane Festival in 2015 programmed by Chris Kohn and David Berthold. An overwhelmingly ambitious play that awoke in the audience new stories of becoming. We gained an understanding of the other. We were swept into the world of boxing, an exquisite metaphor for the ups and downs of life. And what a life the protagonist had, experiencing things that some of us could only see in a movie. A child soldier, an orphan, a young boy who experienced severe post traumatic syndrome:

“The ORDINARY RESPONSE TO ATROCITIES is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.

Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried. Equally as powerful as the desire to deny atrocities is the conviction that denial does not work. Folk wisdom is filled with ghosts who refuse to rest in their graves until their stories are told. Murder will out. Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.

The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory, and fragmented manner that undermines their credibility and thereby serves the twin imperatives of truth-telling and secrecy. When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom…”

― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery

Prize Fighter was written by Future D. Fidel, a wonderfully vibrant young man from The Democratic Republic of Congo. He wrote his story, a story that Brisbane heard. Todd MacDonald directed, Bill Haycock designed, Felix Cross composed, David Walters lit, Nigel Poulton coached and Optikal Bloc created the technical design. What resulted was a magical night at the theatre.

I am hoping that this powerful performance will be recognised at our only theatre award ceremony in Brisbane, the Matilda Awards. I have not seen every work that has been nominated for a Silver Matilda and I wish I had. But one I have seen is Sven Svenson’s terrific play Heavenly Bodies, an important and powerful story, and its nomination is not only a nomination for very fine work, it is a nomination for equity.The leading character sits at the edges of our society. In Sven’s play they are placed centre stage.

In a similar vein, I am rooting for gold for three people: Future D. Fidel the writer Pacharo Mzembe the leading actor and Todd MacDonald the director

These three Brisbane artists created magic. They changed us. We had to re-think who we were. I hope they are placed centre stage too.