• Dr Margi Brown Ash

"This Silent Thing": our latest work

Multitasking in the theatre:

Phil Miolin (who runs the fabulous theatre program at Curtin University) talks to future students at Open Day as we bump in This Silent Thing

Leah Mercer (my collaborator of 17 years) and I are in the middle of writing an article about our latest work, to be published by Taos Institute. We thought you may like to read a small scene used in a playshop that we hosted in Cancun, Mexico, November 2018.

We began this project when I was Artist in Residence last June at Leah's university, Curtin University in Perth. We worked as co-directors/co-devisors/co-writers, and our aim was to interrogate feminine ways of leading, beginning with the first woman, Pandora.

Pandora was made from clay by the Greek Gods. The Gods then gifted her a box full of all the evils of the world which she was not to open (of course she did!). This particular scene was written by Leah.

DORA: I am why there is evil in the world.


Can you imagine?

It’s not hard if you try.

I’m just the type, so I’ve been told.

Of course it’s my fault…me and my “gifts”

Each of the Gods gave me a gift, (if you ask me, each gift says more about them than it does about me):

Aphrodite made me beautiful and taught me the art of love, so you couldn’t resist.

Athena taught me the arts of the house so I’d have dinner on the table by 6. Then she made me this silver dress so I could fuck like a demon at 9.

Even the words in my mouth came from someone else: Hermes taught me to be charming AND to be cruel! Fuck you Hermes.

Then Zeus gave me a box and said:

ZEUS: “Do not open!”

DORA: What kinda gift is that? “Do not open!” I did of course (c’mon, you know you would have too) And out it all came:



Sickness and Death

Oh, and Hope…to soften the blows of all the rest. A little light in all that darkness.

Standing around, opening and closing a box for eternity. What kinda life is that? Thanks a lot Zeus. For every: “You are so beautiful!” There’s been ten:

MAN: “Who do you think you are Pandora?

DORA: For every: “Marry me Dora.” There’s been a hundred:

HERMES: “You’re ugly, you’re fat and you have absolutely no talent.”

DORA: For every: “I love you.” There’s been a million:

ZEUS: “…get back in the kitchen, stop overreacting, be less irrational, are you sad love cause you can't get a root, you need a good root, if you weren't so ugly maybe you could get a root…I bet you'd jibber less if you had a cock in your mouth, you big fucking lesbian dyke, man-hater, fat bitch, dog, whore...”[1]

Doubt, so much doubt and self-loathing began to flap around me. It’s been millennia since I had an original idea, until now.

I’ve got a choice. I can give into doubt or I can find my own beauty. Beauty as resistance.[2]I listen to the sounds of beauty that surround me, the sound of a bird’s wings flapping overhead, the waves never getting tired of hitting the shore. And from there I begin to develop intention.

I dream of another place, untouched by sorrows.[3]I dream of a meadow along a shore where all the oceans meet and the earth bears fruit as sweet as honey. No guilt, no shame, no punishment, just the breath of the wind giving fresh life to all.[4]Imagine your own personal place of perfect happiness, your Elysium. This is mine. This dream of a place where the full moon is the finest painter[5]and we are it’s canvas. Where everyone glows in the soft moonlight and if you catch the eye of one of the glowing people you smile. Where I spin new stories and sing with abandon, where I am my own canvas.

And so I’m here to tell you we’ve been given a bum rap, us women, that box was a trick. That box was the opposite of choice.

Ask yourself:

What came first?

The box or the stuff inside?

And who’s to blame when the gift of a box goes wrong: the giver or the receiver? Zeus or me? I mean, c’mon.

But here’s the thing about a gift that Zeus didn’t bargain on: in the end a gift is what the receiver makes of it.

He once gave me a box full of darkness and it’s taken me years to understand that this darkness is a gift.

The real gift of the box is this:

Without jealousy there is no love.

Without sadness there is no happiness.

Without death there can be no life.

Wisdom is holding…contradictory truths in our mind simultaneously. Hope and despair. A life without despair is a life without hope. Holding these ideas in our head is life itself.

And so I take your box full of darkness Zeus, I gift it to the moon and I raise you a siren in silver armour! Hear me sing! –


[2]Rebecca Walker podcast.

[3]Hesiod. Works and Days.

[4]Homer. Odyssey.

[5]Based on Antoni Gaudi.