• Dr Margi Brown Ash

Book is published, The Show "That's What She Said" has closed...a big week celebrating art

Playlab is an arts organisation in Brisbane that services our industry, publishing plays, supporting playwrights from conception of an idea to the final publication. That is what they did for me: This is a book of provocations and ideas. Yes, the trilogy plays are here, but also several chapters about how I created the work and what I learned, all applicable to your own practice. Thank you Playlab and in particular Danielle Carter for being such a huge support in order to get this done.

Its been a fabulous week and a bit: we opened and closed "That's What She Said", a farewell to Metro Arts Building as she packs up and moves across the river to brand new premises. The pain and joy combined, created a miracle of relationships, art and sharing.

Here we are at the end of the play, farewelling our love. That's me in the pink tutu. When Daniel Evans, our amazingly versatile director rang me, I thought he was joking about the tutu, but no, I wore the biggest tutu you ever did see! Below I have added the monologue that we wrote (I often work in collaboration so it was Leah Mercer, Daniel Evans and I who crafted this piece:

“Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, and only yesterday…”

We are the women who tells stories.

Stories about artists, dreamers, families

Stories about you.

So many stories have been birthed between these walls.

(gestures to theatre space)

We become them, and they become us.

Tonight, I want to tell you a story about Two Old Broads

who have inspired and transformed me:

My two mothers: the mother to whom I was born, and this one,

The Old Broad, who has birthed so many of my plays and

helped grow my practice as artist and therapist.

Everyone’s mother changes their life,

Either because they give too much or too little.

Both of mine gave far too much.

One of them would never have called herself

an artist or a dreamer

She was too Methodist for that

But she wasn’t too Methodist to turn a blind eye to my

early artistic choices:

naked onstage, masturbating with a crucifix.

In my defence: it was the 70s!

In her defence: was her theatre program,

held tightly over her face in the back row.

But neither of my mothers ever turned away.

They both gave me a house of belonging to grow

stories, friendships and art.

This Old Broad gave me 7 different studios across

20 years-in-residence.

We are the women who tell stories. gram, nd eye to stained floors,

loud rehearsals and gallons of wine.

Both my mothers understood love.

Both my mothers understood light.

They showed me how to transform terror

into action

They taught me that nobody can take your sunshine away.

That nobody has that right.

And we now all understand- because of These Old Broads-

that there is no light in hate.

There is no joy in jealousy.

There is no love in judgement.

If my birth mother were here today I’d call her a social artist

She composed her life using everything in her reach:

The love of her husband, her children, her grandchildren,

the casuarina trees that lined our driveway.

Devonshire tea and late-night chats.

This Old Broad, the midwife of our Brisbane artists’ soul,

composed her life from our stories.

Show after show she birthed.

No judgement.

Just opportunity.

Pain? Yes. But always with open arms.

“Margi, it’s time to tell a new story” they whisper in my ear,

“the story of now, the story of imminent change”.

Change is the only thing we can depend upon.

It can be too much, it can be too little.

It’s what we do with the mess that counts. It’s how we let go with grace.

“Change doesn’t need to announce itself,” the Old Broads remind us.

“It can arrive quietly or with a CRASH:

To rupture.

To break things apart.

Or to initiate.

But each of us are sleeper cells, ready to wake up to the potential

for Change” If we are up for it.

“May your bodies be weapons of kindness”.

“May your hands perform small acts of terrifying gratitude”

“May your words imagine new worlds where you love fiercely and

tell tales with vicious positivity made of all the things that surround you”

And with that advice, The Two Old Broads leave us…

holding memories of love, kindness, and inspiration.

Ready for our new adventure.

Come. A new story is emerging. It’s time.

But don’t forget Our Old Broads.

They are our wisdom and our light, and because of them,

And because of Sue and Liz and now Jo

we can build our future, again and again and again.

We will not give up.

We will step out.

Let’s all join together and move forward, slowly at first,

Into this new, vibrant, heartbreaking, heart making light.



Here we are with our Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch MP as we farewell The Old Broad.
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