At the turn of the twentieth-century, in the rowdy streets of Chattanooga, Tennessee, a young Bessie Smith was literally singing for her supper. Busking alongside her brother, Bessie learned the hard way just what it took to capture an audience against the odds: to sing and dance and demand attention despite the clatter of carts and the shouts of storeowners and vendors selling their wares. This early foray into the performing life would help shape Smith into the greatest performer of her age, rising up to the heights of Empress of the Blues and becoming the highest paid black entertainer of her day. In her private life she was just as bold and brash as her stage persona, never shying away from saying what she thought and more than happy to get into a fistfight or two. So put the needle on some vinyl and join us as we get down and bluesy with Bessie Smith.
Marsha P Johnson was a legend of Christopher Street, a revolutionary trans and LGBTQ+ activist, and a leading figure of Stonewall. Famed for her extravagant floral headdresses, her bright red plastic heels, and her generous spirit, Marsha made a name for herself not just as a drag queen, but as a mother to the queer street and trans youth who needed her. Together with her best friend, fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera, she created STAR, the Street Transvestite (now Transgender) Action Revolutionaries, and advocated for the rights of the most marginalised of her community. Join us on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots as we celebrate the life of one of Pride’s most important figures.
In the early 20th century the highly restrictive Comstock Laws made it almost impossible for American women to gain access to, or an understanding of, contraceptive methods. Arriving into the impoverished communities of New York city’s East Side, nurse Margaret Sanger saw women struggling with enormous families of children, the health ramifications of multiple births, and the horrors of back-alley abortions. This motivated her to act, starting a campaign of birth control advocacy that would form her life’s work. In the wake of the recent attacks on women’s reproductive rights in the U.S., the first of our two part episode looks at this controversial woman’s career, and the fundamental changes brought about by her life long work.
Along the rivers and waterways of Mexico, a woman’s cries can be heard in the night. Punished for the crime of infanticide, La Llorona wanders in the dark for eternity, ready to snatch away unsuspecting children. But while her story makes for perfect horror film fare, there is more to her than meets the eye. With echoes of the Aztec goddess Cihuacóatl, her significance as a symbol of women’s agency and power has been reclaimed in modern feminist reimaginings of La Llorona lore. So turn the lights down low as we prepare for a ghost story that reveals much more about prescribed gender roles than Hollywood would like us to think…
In our first episode back for Season Three, we get piratical with the most successful pirate of them all… a woman! From infamous beginnings, Ching Shih’s path crossed with Cheng I, a notorious sea dog who terrorised China’s southern coastline. Together, they formed an unstoppable coalition of pirates, with a stranglehold on the precious trade that ran through the Pearl River Delta to Canton. But when Cheng I died a new leader was needed, and Ching Shih stepped up to write her place in history. So get your sea legs ready and prepare for battle as we explore the life of the fierce Ching Shih.
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.
Known as the Liberator of the Liberator, Manuela Sáenz rose to prominence as the mistress of revolutionary hero, Simón Bolívar. A heroine in her own right, Manuela became a celebrated patriot, spy, recruiter and trusted informant of the revolution that saw the overthrow of Spanish rule in South America. But she was also infamous for her wild antics, from the strange battlefield trophy she’d wear to masquerades to the wild political stunts she’d pull at parties. Wherever Manuela went, controversy wasn’t far behind! Join us as we unfurl the patriot banner, evade an assassination attempt or two, and traverse the expanse of the newly liberated (though short lived) state of Gran Colombia!
This Adelaide Fringe, Lauren and Alicia are set to take you on an eye-opening romp through the lives of two of history’s most outrageous women.
♠ Julie D’Aubigny ♠
Monday 26th Feb 2018
7pm @ The Jade, 160 Flinders Street, Adelaide
Come along for a cavalier adventure in 17th century France through the life and times of the flamboyant and swashbuckling Julie D’Aubigny.
♣ Madame Blavatsky ♣
Wednesday 14th March 2018
7pm @ The Jade, 160 Flinders Street, Adelaide
Sit with us at the dark table of the Victorian séance as we delve into the occult world of the mysterious and down-right weird Madame Blavatsky
In two alternate shows, these Adelaide locals will bring their signature mix of historical storytelling and comedic banter to a live audience for the first time.
Get your tickets now from FringeTix.
For teenage Uschi Obermaier, rock’n’roll offered an escape from the drudgery of post-war Munich, and it didn’t take long before her beauty and brazenness caught the eye of some of the 20th century’s greatest male musicians. Both lauded and denigrated for her ‘groupie’ status, Uschi’s modelling career and high-profile relationships saw her gain notoriety for her hedonistic attitude, but also allowed her the freedom to travel the world. Settle the needle into the groove of a good record, and join us for our final episode of Series One, as we delve into the world of a woman who lived life by her own rules to become an icon of an era.
In the epic time of Norse mythology, the Völsunga Saga tells of love, betrayal, tragedy and blood feuds. At the heart of one family’s legend sits Guðrún Gjúkadóttir, wife to three kings, and a woman to whom vengeance necessitates a devastating sacrifice. Join us as we venture into a land of Valkyries and dragons, where a sorceress’s prophecy might foretell your doom, and you must always be wary of accepting ale!
Both born bastards, and disguised as boys in their youths, Anne Bonny and Mary Read shared more than just their love for the sea. Each left the British Isles for a life of piracy in the Caribbean where their fates intertwined. Infamy soon followed, as the pair gained a reputation as the most fearless and ferocious duo of the high seas. Come aboard as we follow the reckless adventures of these swashbuckling lady pirates!
Assigned female at birth, Eugenia Falleni led most of his life as Harry Crawford: a tough-talking, whiskey-drinking ladies man. In 1920 Harry was charged with the murder of his first wife, Annie Birkett, and his ‘duplicitous’ identity as Harry – then perceived a ‘sexual perversion’ – became Australia’s headline news. Join us as we trace Harry’s life, from shocking events aboard a merchant vessel on the high seas, to the working houses of Sydney, and wonder whether or not Harry’s fate could have been any different.