In the 5th century BCE the Persian Empire stretched from Asia and the Middle East, as far as Africa and Europe. But the Persian King, Xerxes, sought to expand the empire, launching his armies into Greece by land and by sea. Among the commanders of the Persian fleet was Artemisia: Queen of Caria and ruthless naval strategist. Her courage at the Battle of Artemisium set her apart, and her wily recklessness at the Battle of Salamis cemented her place in history, as well as in Xerxes’ esteem. But the historicity of her life is elusive, leading some to fill in the gaps with clichéd tropes. Take your place to witness an epic clash of civilisations, as we consider Artemisia’s place in the fray alongside Hollywood’s representation of this fascinating figure.
Famed as the legendary Nun Lieutenant, Catalina de Erauso, fighter, lover and all round adventurer, was perhaps even more revered for her status as a supreme seducer than her skills with a sword. After escaping the convent where she spent her childhood, Catalina fashioned herself hose and doublet and made her way through Spain and South America under a number of male guises. Her pattern of lawbreaking, finding sanctuary in churches and evading execution eventually got her an audience with the Pope himself. So don your habit, grab your sword and join us for one hell of an adventure.
Carry A. Nation was born Carrie Amelia Moore in 1846 in Kentucky. By the time the Civil War had ended, Carry had experienced first hand the devastation that alcoholism could inflict. Headstrong and determined, Carry left an abusive husband to start her life over again. When she met and married David Nation, Carry took the surname that would define her and her God-given mission to end the spread of alcohol, setting out to single-handedly reform a nation caught in the grips of liquid sin. Go get your smashers listeners, because it’s time to have a hatchetation!
To celebrate NAIDOC week, we wanted to honour the extraordinary life of one of Australia’s foremost, but often misremembered Indigenous women, Truganini. Born on Bruny Island off the Tasmanian Coast in the early 19th century in the Palawa community, Truganini’s life was quickly transformed by the arrival of British invaders. After surviving a tragic early life, she realised she could help her people by becoming a guide and interpreter. But when she lost hope in even that, she turned to the bush and life as an outlaw. A content warning to listeners that this episode contains discussion of extreme violence and genocide. Because of her, we can.
In October 2017, women across the globe came together under the hashtag MeToo. However, social activist and advocate Tarana Burke had already been campaigning for women of colour under the same banner for eleven long years. In this episode, we talk about her incredibly important work, the pervasiveness of predatory behaviour, and the way women are constantly told that they should somehow take responsibility for a culture of misogyny and sexual entitlement beyond their control. A content warning for listeners that we discuss issues of sexual violence and trauma, getting pretty angry and emotional into the bargain. This is not an episode best suited to your morning commute! At the same time, we also celebrate the influence of this inspiring woman, and the movement that has grown up in the wake of her work.
After leaving her home at the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota for the brutal regiment of boarding school in the east, Zitkála-Šá began developing the creative talents and political consciousness that would make her one of the most influential Native American women of the 20th Century. Her acclaimed stories and essays chronicled her struggles with identity and culture, and her translations brought Native American legends to a whole new audience. All the while, she maintained a subversive rebellious spirit that lit the flames of her later activism. So join us as we traverse prairies and plains with one who knows them best, Zitkála-Šá.
Towards the close of the 17th century, the opulent hallways of Versailles were swept up with the scandalous ‘Affair of the Poisons’. The Sun King, Louis XIV, ordered an investigation into the dark underworld of the Paris occult, hunting down those who supplied potions and aphrodisiacs alongside more sinister wares. One of those was Catherine Monvoisin, a favoured fortune teller and sorceress among the wealthy elite. Join us as we press our ears to the grand doorways of the palace, abuzz with whispered gossip and treachery, and endeavour to unpick truth from accusation in the life of La Voisin.
Infamous as the last woman tried under the Witchcraft Act of 1735, Helen Duncan caused more than a few stirs in her time. After terrifying her schoolmates her with dire predictions, Helen grew up to become one of wartime Britain’s foremost physical mediums. She soon became the target of a series of scientific investigations and caught the attention of MI5, which resulted in a court-case Winston Churchill himself described as ‘obsolete tomfoolery.’ So grab your cheesecloth and darken the lights as we delve into the scandalous life of Mrs Duncan!
One of Australia’s most awarded playwrights, Patricia Cornelius isn’t afraid to go where other writers won’t. With titles like SHIT and SLUT, Patricia pushes her audience to pay attention to some of society’s most visceral issues. In The Club was specially commissioned for the State Theatre Company of South Australia, and it shines a blinding light on accounts of sexual violence in one of our most beloved national sports. Patricia sat down with us to discuss her life in the theatre, and just what inspired her to write this uncompromising new work.
Born in the early hours of a thunderstorm, with pointed ears and ‘witches’ marks’ on her skin, little Rosaleen was destined for a life of the occult. From her earliest childhood, Roie was drawn to the dark, and her drawings and stories about ghouls, monsters and grotesque horrors set her apart from her peers. As a young woman, she immersed herself in Theosophy, Western Esoterism, dedicated herself to the pagan god, Pan, and pursued a life of art. Come with us to the dingy streets of mid-century Sydney, where Rosaleen’s occult paintings and pagan ways made her infamous as the Witch of King’s Cross.
Amidst the surge and spray of Niagara Falls, Edmonia Lewis spent her childhood hunting, fishing, and making crafts for tourists. But when her half-brother helped her to pursue an education, Edmonia’s talent as a sculptor flourished. After leaving America to join the milieu of Italy’s artistic sisterhood, Edmonia threw herself into a dedication to art that would see her gain fame, both in Europe and at home. Join us in the bustling art scene of Rome, as we stroll through the arcades and galleries on our search to uncover the life and works of this fascinating figure.
From the moment eighteen-year-old Charlotte Cushman stepped out on stage as Lady Macbeth she was destined for greatness. Treading the boards from New York to London, Charlotte cemented her reputation as the finest American actress of the 19th century. But her personal life was just as dramatic as the parts she played, with a slew of female lovers that placed her at the centre of Rome’s artistic expatriate community. Follow us backstage as the houselights dim and we peer beyond the curtain into the life and times of one of the theatre’s true legends.