Dead Ladies Show #17

For our 17th show, we have three impressive women writers to tell you about, all of whom did something else on the side: a Berlin salonnière, a political activist, and a fanatical journal-keeper and traveller. Brought to you by award-winning writer and translator Isabel Cole, globetrotting journalist Binnur Cavuslu, and regular Katy Derbyshire. All held together, of course, by your beloved co-host Florian. Expect surprises, shocks, inspiration, dedication, and perspiration – as we celebrate three women who lived totally different but equally impressive lives at the ACUD Studio on Monday, 11 June at 8 pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5, or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!

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BETTINA VON ARNIM was a countess with a famous brother and a famous husband, but let’s not hold that against her. She fought the tyranny of conventions from an early age, falling out with Goethe and later writing a book of their fake “correspondence.” She composed songs, published dissident writing and also genuine correspondence, and hosted all the Romantic dudes at her salon. Presumably after her seven children went to bed. Bettina used to have her face on a banknote and once had a short-lived settlement in Texas named after her. Now there’s an ambition.

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HALIDE EDIP ADIVAR was a novelist, women’s rights campaigner, and activist alongside Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Her novels broke boundaries in Turkish literature, presenting a new type of woman with a mind of her own. She helped set up Turkey’s first feminist organization and gain women the right to divorce – and then she went ahead and left her first husband while she was at it. After a falling-out with the nationalists, she taught at universities in New York, Delhi, and Istanbul. Halide rather outdoes Bettina in death, what with having a crater on Venus in her name.

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ANNE LISTER was a philandering lesbian and writer of 24 volumes of diaries in pre-Victorian Yorkshire. She wooed and bedded various upper-class ladies in search of true love, or at least a wife who could keep her in comfort. She went against sartorial convention, too, wearing only black except when in the presence of royalty. Anne was a very adventurous traveller, fond of climbing mountains and attending balls in out-of-the-way places. Her travels took her all the way across Europe and along the frozen Volga to Tbilisi – in a carriage with a broken window. She has a mountain pass in the Pyrenees named after her, which is better than nothing.

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Dead Ladies Show #16

Spring is upon us, so we’re celebrating renewal with a killer combination of dead dames. And this time, we reckon you’ve probably heard of at least one of them! We bring you a Berlin-born film director and animator, a translator of Dante who wrote a spot of classy crime fiction on the side, and a fairly famous Mexican artist, presented by journalist and podcast producer Susan Stone, your regular co-host Florian Duijsens, and storytelling shero Dorothea Martin. All kept on the rails by your other beloved co-host, Katy Derbyshire. Think fairytale outfits and a whole lot of skulls and flowers, as we raise a glass of something to three thrilling women at the ACUD STUDIO on 24 April, 8pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat!

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Lotte-Reiniger

LOTTE REINIGER was born in Charlottenburg in 1899 and went on to combine her two youthful passions, silhouette puppetry and cinema, making the world’s oldest surviving animated feature film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). A whizz with the scissors, she made more than 45 films using her animated cutouts and special camera technique, most on fairytale themes. In 1933, she and her husband left the Germany of Bertolt Brecht, Max Reinhardt, and Fritz Lang and spent eleven years trying to get permanent residency in London, Paris, and Rome, before reluctantly returning to Berlin to care for Reiniger’s elderly mother. She won major awards for her life’s work, and also has her own star on the pavement at Potsdamer Platz.

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DOROTHY L. SAYERS is probably best known for her crime novels featuring posh amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey. But she also gave us an impressive English translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, much loved to this day. Something of a child prodigy, she learned Latin at six and studied at Oxford before women were actually awarded degrees. She made an early living in advertising and later wrote essays on both Christian and feminist subjects, including the fabulously titled “Are Women Human?” All this while publishing sixteen detective novels, plus numerous plays and short stories, and leading what might best be called a turbulent private life.

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Does FRIDA KAHLO need an introduction? Probably every feminist’s favourite 20th-century folk-art-inspired Mexican Communist painter, she found a visual language for the pain of her physical and mental existence, using her art to raise questions about identity that don’t feel dated today. Her very face has become iconic – Fridamaniacs can buy Frida Kahlo socks, shoes, nail varnish, cookbooks, tarot cards, aprons, tequila, and anything and everything in between. In June, London’s V&A Museum will be showing her personal artifacts and clothing for the first time outside of Mexico. But who was she?

 

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Dead Ladies Show #15

New year, new Dead Ladies! February sees a fabulous array of foregone females dished up for your delight: an award-winning author who taught herself to read and write, a swashbuckling lady sea captain, and an early stuntwoman and inventor. Presented by top Berlin writer Deniz Utlu, amazing translator Laura Radosh, and your regular co-host Katy Derbyshire. All kept on the rails by your other beloved co-host, Florian Duijsens. So get ready to laugh, gasp, and cry as you raise a glass to a trio of inspiring women with us in the ACUD Studio on 13 February, 8pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5, or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat!

Also, since we last wrote you three (!) more podcast episodes have gone up. Courtesy of our magnificent producer Susan Stone, these present highlights from past events, plus one or two extra bits to delight your ears. Do click through for a listen to Katy on the great poet May Ayim (recorded live in the studio), Florian on the deathless Dorothy Parker(recorded live in Wannsee), and the fab Jessica Miller on surrealist artist/author Leonora Carrington (recorded live in front of you, our beloved audience)! Get them wherever you get your podcasts (and don’t forget to rate and subscribe).

Romanian-born Aglaja Veteranyi came from a family of circus artistes. After a decade of being forced to perform as a dancer around Europe, she settled in Switzerland and taught herself German while training as an actor. She went on to run the acting school where she had trained. Alongside her work on the stage, she wrote novels, short stories, poetry, and plays, winning prizes and acclaim. Facing a crisis in 2002, she drowned herself in Lake Zurich. Her work is available in Spanish, Romanian, Hungarian, Slovenian, French, Polish, and English translations.

Grace O’Malley, or rather Gráinne Mhaol, is lauded as a “pirate queen,” “a most famous femynyne sea captain,” and “the dark lady of Doona.” She was lord of the O’Malley dynasty in 16th-century Ireland, owning up to 1000 cattle and horses, leading men on land and sea, and allegedly wreaking cruel vengeance for the murder of a lover. When her sons and half-brother were captured by the English, she met with Queen Elizabeth I and negotiated their release in Latin, while also teaching the court about disposable handkerchiefs. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Our dead Berliner is Käthe Paulus, Germany’s first female airship pilot, a professional aerial acrobat, and the inventor of the folding parachute. On meeting a balloonist, she decided to learn how to pilot a hot-air balloon and perform parachute jumps. Having had his baby out of wedlock, she lost him in a ballooning accident and made a living for herself – and her mother, who she lived with throughout her life – flying balloons, airships, and planes, and jumping out of them, starting her own parachute production line during WWI. And yes, they have named a street at BER after her.

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Dead Ladies Show #14

Dead Ladies Show number 14 brings you three out-and-out rebellious ladies who took their lives in their own hands and gave us great art: an East German writer who found recognition and then disapproval in the West, a painter who shaped both Surrealism and feminism, and one of the most influential blues musicians of all time. Presented by top Berlin writer ANNETT GRÖSCHNER, Australian author JESSICA MILLER, and your favourite regular, FLORIAN DUIJSENS. Co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE will be holding the reins and welcoming you all. So throw caution to the wind, embrace your inner rebel, and raise a glass to a trio of fabulous females with us in the ACUD STUDIO on 21 November, 8pm.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat!

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Our dead Berliner this time round is CHRISTA REINIG, born right here in 1926. A working-class lesbian writer, her remarkable life took her from Trümmerfrau to floristry to museum curating, all the while refusing to conform to authority. Having been banned from publishing her work in the GDR, she got her poems and stories into print in the West. In 1964, she went to West Germany to accept a literary award – and never went back. The 1970s saw her discovering feminism, finding a sometimes satirical voice to articulate women’s experiences and ways to write poetry about lesbian love. But – surprise! – the literary establishment wasn’t much into that. Christa Reinig is remembered for her “life-affirming sarcasm” and brash, Berlin-style charm.

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The painter and novelist LEONORA CARRINGTON was born in England but spent most of her adult life in Mexico. Even as a child, art offered her a way out of the constraints of her family’s expectations, and she was soon drawn to Surrealism – and the artist Max Ernst. Not one to settle for muse status, Carrington began painting and sculpting in the Surrealist style. She also wrote to deal with the blows life threw at her, from incarceration in an asylum to aging while female. In Mexico, she became a fêted political artist and helped begin the country’s Women’s Liberation movement. She received the ultimate posthumous honour in 2015, with a painting of hers made into a Google Doodle.

Tobacco-chewing blues singer MEMPHIS MINNIE ran away from home at the age of 13 and made a living off music from then on, from street performances supplemented by prostitution to hundreds of now classic recordings. It was said she never put her guitar down until she could no longer hold it in her hands, and she was known to use it as a weapon when required. Her songs were about the joys and hardships of everyday black life; according to the poet Langston Hughes, she played “music with so much in it folks remember, that sometimes it makes them holler out loud.” Largely forgotten for many years while white men covered her songs, she is now celebrated for her huge contribution to blues music and what came after.

 

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Dead Ladies Show #13

The Dead Ladies Show is a series of entertaining and inspiring presentations on women who achieved amazing things against all odds. Every two months, the show hosts three passionate cheerleaders of too-oft forgotten women, inviting its loyal audience into a sexy séance (of sorts) celebrating these impressive icons, their turbulent lives, and deathless legacies.

Our 13th event showcases three such extraordinary ladies who pushed the boundaries of their times: a poet and Afro-German activist, a pioneering doctor who took a liberal view of female sexuality, and a silent movie star who wowed crowds in a lavish 1917 version of Cleopatra, now lost for all eternity. Our presenters are the award-winning German writer DAVID WAGNER, Dublin/Berlin-based columnist ALIX BERBER, and your beloved co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE. And of course our master of ceremonies, FLORIAN DUIJSENS, will ensure the evening’s entertainment runs smoothly. So put on your glad rags and raise a glass with us in the ACUD STUDIO on 26 September, 8pm.

Launching our year of dead Berliners is MAY AYIM, who made our fine city her home in 1984. She was a founding member of the Initiative of Black People in Germany a year later, and published the groundbreaking book Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out soon afterwards. Ayim trained as a speech therapist and taught at university level, but she’s remembered for her work on Afro-German history and her unmasking of racism – and for her moving poetry which explores her own memory and identity and those of others.

ANNA FISCHER-DÜCKELMANN was one of the first women to study medicine, running a clinic for women and children in Dresden for many years. She wrote books on reforming women’s clothing, women’s sexuality, and gynecology, plus a popular illustrated guide to medicine for women. Keeping her maiden name after marriage, Fischer-Dückelmann championed both natural remedies and women’s rights. “Women’s equality,” she wrote, “is the key to a new heavenly realm of love.”

The silent movie actress THEDA BARA rose to become Fox Studios’ biggest star prior to the 1920s, often cast as a vamp. Yet she also played Shakespearean roles like Juliet and Cleopatra. In pre-code Hollywood, she was known for her skimpy costumes and early sex-symbol status. Criticized for her dark roles – from gang moll to Princess Zara of the South Seas – she responded: “I will continue doing vampires as long as people sin.” Although she made more than 40 silent films, very few of them have survived.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Now generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat!

 

Dead Ladies Show #12

On May 30th, we’re throwing our 12th Dead Ladies Show, proudly presenting three very different 20th-century women, all of whom made waves doing things they weren’t supposed to do: a multiple medal-winning runner, a Hollywood writer, and a gun-toting suffragette socialist – brought to you by translator and adventurer Sarah Fisher, writer and dramaturge Antonia Roeller, and your beloved co-host Katy Derbyshire.

With Florian Duijsens to keep the show on track, you can look forward to a riotously riveting evening. Put on your running shorts, your diamonds, or your sturdiest boots, swing on over to the ACUD Studio, and raise a glass of our special drink to toast these three fine dead ladies.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat!

The athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen was 30 years old and had two kids when she won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics. The mayor of Amsterdam kindly presented her with a bicycle on her return. She held 58 Dutch titles and set or tied 12 world records during her athletic career – all while putting up with patronizing nicknames like “the flying housewife” and “the flying Dutchmam”. Treasuring her Jesse Owens autograph, which she got when she competed in the Berlin Olympics at the age of 18, she lived to the ripe age of 85 and was named Female Athlete of the Century in 1999. Fanny Blankers-Koen ran like a woman.

Dubbed “the soubrette of satire”, Anita Loos wrote hundreds of film scripts with names like A Temperamental WifeA Virtuous VampA Perfect WomanPolly of the Follies, and Biography of a Bachelor Girl. Plus of course her most famous book, the short story collection Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and a decent handful of memoirs, novels, and non-fiction. She hung out in Paris, New York, and Hollywood with writers, actresses, and chorus girls, put up with and then divorced a hypochondriac husband, and worked incredibly hard to become one of America’s most feted screenwriters.

Constance Markievicz was an Irish revolutionary, suffragette, and socialist, and the first woman elected to the British parliament (although she never attended). From a landowning background, she became a landscape painter and socialized with Dublin’s intellectuals before joining Sinn Féin and the Daughters of Ireland, attending her first meeting in a ball-gown and tiara. Later, though, she advised women to “dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels in the bank and buy a revolver.” Markievicz fought in the 1916 Easter Rising, narrowly escaping a death sentence, and became the first woman cabinet minister in the Irish Republic.

Dead Ladies Show #11

On 28 March, our 11th Dead Ladies Show brings you a congenial constellation of shining female stars from the past millennium and a half. Revisiting the fascinating lives of a mathematical genius, a literary legend, and a star of stage, screen, and espionage will be writer and translator Karen Margolis, thespian Gabi Hift (who so wonderfully shared her love for Unica Zürn back at our 5th show), and DLS-regular Florian Duijsens, all held together by co-host Katy Derbyshire.

Back at our beloved ACUD Studio, we’ll be imbibing a special drink or two and generally enjoying ourselves – so whether you favour a toga, a pantsuit, or a slightly fruitier outfit, come along and join the feminist fun.

Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat, and please do share this invite with your friends!

In 1927, US-born activist, singer, and spy Josephine Baker was the first black person anywhere to star in a major motion picture – that same year she was Europe’s highest-earning entertainer. During WWII she used her fame to gather intelligence and her sheet music to transport secret messages for the Resistance. In France, she lived in a chateau with her 11 adopted children, while in the States she was banned by the FBI right after being named the NAACP’s “Woman of the Year” for her anti-segregation articles and campaigns. All, of course, after having brought jazz and banana-garnished dancing to Europe.

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Our oldest dead lady yet, Hypatia of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher in Byzantine Egypt. Widely admired for her self-possession, she is considered a universal genius and headed a school of philosophy, teaching Platonist ideas to pagans, Christians, and foreigners. This being around the year 400, no one knows exactly what she wrote, but it was probably her astronomical research on the vernal equinox that got her brutally murdered in the end. A lady who lived and died for science.

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Writer Harper Lee is famous the world over for To Kill A Mockingbird. After publication in 1960, she decided “it’s better to be silent than to be a fool” and withdrew from public life. Having started writing as a child on a typewriter shared with her neighbour Truman Capote, they went on to work together on his In Cold Blood and later had his-n-hers alcohol problems. Despite allowing her novel Go Set A Watchman to be published seven months before her death last year, Harper Lee maintained a strictly protected private life almost unimaginable for writers today.