NOTE: Silence is an original poem that was first performed last year by Faith Wilson at a talanoa organized by the IIML. Additional material was later added by Victor Rodger when he was the Robert Burns Fellow at Otago. It was directed this year by Maiya Thompson at Victoria University’s Theatre Programme as part of a presentation by third year directing students.


SILENCE is ideally performed by a cast of four Polynesian actors.

A / denotes when the next actor begins.


FAITH: Listening to Tupac’s Changes /sippin’ sizzurp smoking chronic instead of going to school

2 x ACTORS (singing): /That’s just the way it is/ Things will never be the same

FAITH: Dancing to Jefferson Airplanes White Rabbit on an acid trip in the lounge of Ruth’s house instead of going to school

RUTH: Faith: the curtains are breathing.

FAITH: Fucking Sam listening to Steve Miller/ in the back of his Toyota Previa at an empty subdivision in Tamahere instead of going to school

ACTOR (singing) :       /I’m a joker

                                       I’m a smoker

                                       I’m a mid-night toker

                                       I get my lovin’ on the run

SAM: Just the head, baby, I promise: just the head.

FAITH: Anything to drown the SILENCE anything instead of going to school cos school sucks and you’re seventeen and that really fucking sucks

TEACHER: Faith? Faith? I’m asking you a question. Were you even listening to me? Pay attention.

FAITH: Reading The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock/

ACTOR: /let us go then, you and I…

FAITH: Instead of Hamlet because Shakespeare sucks

ACTOR: To be or not to be…

FAITH: Memorising the lyrics of Pink Floyd songs/

ACTOR: / Shine on you crazy diamond

FAITH: Because T. S. Eliot sucks

TS ELIOT: …when the evening is spread out across the sky…

FAITH: Rapping Snoop’s Drop It Like It’s Hot/

2 x ACTORS (singing) : /Drop it like it’s hot/Drop it like it’s hot

FAITH: And killin’ it cos Pink Floyd sucks and Snoop is still the dope king and SILENCE

FAITH: Run away to Christchurch when you finish school cos your friends suck and so does your family and so do Hamilton

ACTOR: Christchurch? Instead of the Tron? Fuck, good luck.

FAITH: Come back to Hamilton cos Christchurch is so white, bland and devoid of culture that Hamilton looks like mecca

ACTOR: Yes, I know you said you were from Hamilton but where are you from?

FAITH: Get a hospo job. Eat free muffins and get fat then get depressed and hide from your friends

ACTOR: Wait – was that Faith?

ACTOR: Someone needs to lay off the pies.


Steal your brothers Ritalin/

BROTHER: /fucking Faith have you been in my shit again?

FAITH: And push it up your nose at parties. Hello confidence!

ACTOR: Oh my God, what is Faith on?

FAITH: Cut your arms cut your thighs.

Sleep with an older man who turns your flat into a smoking chamber and almost sets your house on fire.

OLDER MAN: Sorry, babe. (COUGHS).

FAITH: Lie to your parents about your virginal status.

MUM: I mean if you’re…You can tell us, Faith…it’s alright…


Hate stuff for the sake of it.

Get into a fist fight just cos but actually because he wolf-whistled at your friend and you called him out on it.

WOLF WHISTLER: You crazy fuckin bitch, what’s your problem?

FAITH: Go to Hamilton town ironically.

Head thrash to the cover band at Shenanigan’s ironically.

Enjoy yourself ironically.

Drop your cellphone off the bridge because gravity.

Stand on the rails of the bridge but don’t jump because gravity. SILENCE.

Macca’s on the way home because KFCs closed.

ACTOR: These fries are literally like, the best thing ever, right?

FAITH: Go to uni again and make dad happy.

DAD: la, good girl.

FAITH: Read white man’s philosophy.

DERRIDA: To pretend, I actually do the thing: I have therefore only pretended to pretend.

FAITH: Weave Derrida into your Pride and Prejudice essay.

DERRIDA: There is nothing outside the text.

FAITH: Write essays about Wittgenstein.

WITTGENSTEIN: The human body is the best picture of the human

FAITH: Decide Derrida sucks.

Derrida turns, hurt.

Wittgenstein’s okay. Erase Saussure from memory.

SAUSSURE: Without language, thought is a vague:

FAITH holds up her hand to silence him.


Skim-read Plato’s Republic but tell everyone you’ve read it front to back.

Your lecturer tells you what happens  anyway so it doesn’t matter.

LECTURER: See it’s all about what’s outside The Cave.

FAITH: Read Jane Austen/

ACTOR: Oh, Mr Darcy!

FAITH: Read Harper Lee.

ACTOR: Scout!

FAITH: Read George Orwell.

ACTOR: Ignorance is strength.

FAITH: Read DeLillo.

ACTOR: The family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation.

FAITH: Read Othello.

ACTOR: Turn out the light. Turn out the light.

FAITH: Read Oliver Twist.

ACTOR: Please Sir I want some more.

FAITH: Read Thackeray.

ACTOR: Revenge may be wicked but it’s natural.

FAITH: Read Sterne.

ACTOR: For every ten jokes you aquire a hundred enemies.

FAITH: Read Thomas Hardy.

ACTOR: Some folk want their luck buttered.

FAITH: Read Tolstoy.

ACTOR: Happy families are all alike…

FAITH: Read Flaubert.

ACTOR: There is no truth, there is only perception.

FAITH: Read Kafka.

ACTOR: It’s often better to be in chains than to be free

FAITH: Read Chekhov.

ACTOR: If you are afraid of loneliness don’t marry.

FAITH: Read Rand.

ACTOR: To say I love you one must first be able to say the ‘I’

FAITH: Read Woolf.

ACTOR: For most of history Anonymous was a woman

FAITH: Read Mansfield.

ACTOR: Risk! Risk anything!

FAITH: Read Plath.

ACTOR: You do not do, you do not do anymore black shoe…

FAITH: Learn how to die. Read Winnie the motherfucking Pooh.

ACTOR: Think it over, think it under.

FAITH: Read everything they put in front of you. Analyse themes. Analyse truth. Relational aesthetics. Hyper-reality. See everything. Know everything. Write an honours dissertation on SILENCE in postcolonial literature. Let your supervisor whitesplain postcolonialism to you.

ACTOR: And that’s what postcolonialism is all about.

FAITH: Let him convince you that J. M. Coetzee’s Foe is the apex of postcolonial literature.

ACTOR: It’s all about enterprise and ownership…

FAITH: Hate Coetzee. Love Coetzee? I don’t know, the man doesn’t say anything. SILENCE. Compare Foe to Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

TONI MORRISON: 124 was spiteful, full of a baby’s venom.

FAITH: SILENCE. Fall in love with Toni. SILENCE. Supervisor shuts down my ideas.

ACTOR: Faith…how can I put it…?

FAITH: SILENCE. Coetzee refuses to be outspoken about the shit happening in his country.

She looks at Coetzee.

FAITH: SILENCE. I hate this book but I want to fuck my supervisor.

She looks at her supervisor.

FAITH: SILENCE. I want him to fuck me. SILENCE. He wants to fuck Coetzee

The supervisor looks at Coetzee.

SILENCE. Or at least give him a hand job.

Coetzee looks away, uncomfortable.

FAITH: SILENCE. I only want to hug Toni.

Toni smiles.

SILENCE. Anything else would be sacrilegious. SILENCE.  Is a literary mechanism. SILENCE but a real symptom. SILENCE. My supervisor gives up on me. SILENCE. I am not submissive enough for him. SILENCE. He refuses to say anything meaningful about the world. SILENCE. He’s like Wittgenstein before he was cool. SILENCE. But if he won’t say anything, then I will.

She opens her mouth to speak.



Faith Wilson is a writer and performer. She was awarded the 2014 Biggs Family Poetry Prize.