Dead Ladies Show #19

Show number 19 is an all-out fantabulous Frankenstein special… bringing you three terrifyingly impressive dead ladies who led unconventional lives and were all somehow tied up with that genre-defining novel: author Mary Shelley, her mother, Urfeminist Mary Wollstonecraft, and Ada Lovelace, computing innovator (and daughter of Lord Byron). Your presenters for the night will be co-hosts Katy Derbyshire and Florian Duijsens, along with Bard College’s own Professor Laura ScuriattiCome along and join us in our favorite venue, the ACUD STUDIO, on Tuesday, 27 November at 8 pm.

Presented (just this once) all in English. €5 or €3 reduced entry (free for BCB students/staff). This edition generously supported by Bard College Berlin. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!

And if you cannot make it this time, check out the new season of our wonderful podcast (produced by Susan Stone), which just kicked off last month and has already seduced a great many listeners with its presentations on genius Marie Skłodowska Curie and novelist Aphra Behn, plus special features on forgotten German doctor, reformer and writer, Anna Fischer-Dückelmann, and almost forgotten photographer Vivian Maier. Listen wherever you get your casts!

625px-RothwellMaryShelley

How could we talk about dead ladies and Frankenstein without the original creator, Mary Shelley? Tutored by her philosopher father, including in story-writing, she may or may not have lost her virginity in a cemetery, to her later husband Percy Shelley. Prompted on a rained-in trip to Lake Geneva in the midst of a positively millennial tangle of relationships, Mary first published Frankenstein anonymously in 1818. She lost three children and numerous close friends and relatives before being widowed at 24. Yet she managed to battle depression and raise her surviving son, writing six more novels, plus travel pieces, articles, and short stories, and living on the proceeds. Mary Shelley was a writer with a radical imagination, a woman who challenged social convention and gave us the gift of science fiction.
Mary_Wollstonecraft_Tate_portrait
Her mother Mary Wollstonecraft died eleven days after Mary Shelley’s birth. Best known for her proto-feminist A Vindication of the Rights of Women, she too was never one to do what was expected of her. After publishing her bestselling rant, she moved to France to watch the Revolution unfold, returning to London in 1795 with an illegitimate child fathered by a useless chancer. Baby Mary was conceived out of wedlock too, but her mother swiftly married the philosopher William Godwin to make up for it. Mary Wollstonecraft earned her own living throughout her life, as a lady’s companion, schoolteacher, tutor, and most successfully as a writer of novels, reviews, and philosophical tracts on education. She now has an asteroid in her name.
Ada_Lovelace
Ada Lovelace was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron, one of Mary Shelley’s tight circle of friends present on that fateful stay in Switzerland. Her distant mother, pissed off by her husband abandoning her shortly after the birth, raised Ada to take an interest in mathematics. She built a set of wings in the hope of flying at the age of 12 and became an accomplished mathematician. As an adult, she translated an Italian paper on a proposed machine, the Analytical Engine, which would have been the first computer. Adding notes three times as long as the original, she went ahead and invented the first computer program. Ada Lovelace has sparked imaginations ever since, becoming a popular feminist figure with hundreds of things named after her, including a computer language.

Dead Ladies Show #18

Show number 18 brings you another three pioneering movers and shakers, women who forged paths, saved lives, and changed history: a ground-breaking scientist, a feminist activist, and a film icon. Brought to you by professor and migrant mothering expert Agata Lisiak, award-winning language-juggling poet Uljana Wolf, and regular Florian Duijsens. All held together, of course, by your beloved co-host Katy Derbyshire. Raise a glass of something cool with us – as we celebrate three women who altered the way we see the world in the ACUD Studio on Tuesday, 11 September at 8 pm.

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

*****

Marie Curie in her laboratory
MARIE SKŁODOWSKA CURIE is the only woman to win Nobel Prizes in two different sciences: physics and chemistry. She started her training at a clandestine university in her native Poland before moving to Paris. For her marriage to Pierre Curie, she wore a dark blue outfit that she later used in their laboratory, a converted shed. Exposed to the elements – both cold weather and uranium – she carried out pioneering research on radioactivity. In fact, she literally invented the word, and also discovered polonium and radium. Her mobile X-ray units were used to treat over a million soldiers in WWI. Her death was probably caused by long-term exposure to radiation. Despite her achievements, Marie Curie was unpopular in France, and she turned down a Legion of Honour award. Still, Paris more recently named a Metro station and a research centre after her, put her on a banknote, and turned her former lab into a museum.

bertha-Pappenheim

BERTHA PAPPENHEIM was an Austrian-Jewish feminist who founded the Jüdischer Frauenbund in Germany and set up many charitable institutions for Jewish women and children, providing “protection for those needing protection and education for those needing education.” While being treated for “hysteria” as a young woman, she invented free association (and was immortalized as Freud’s “Anna O.”); her doctor made her worse rather than better and she later refused psychoanalytic treatment for anyone in her care. She worked against trafficking of women, speaking out about Jewish women’s position: “Under Jewish law a woman is not an individual, not a personality; she is only judged and assessed as a sexual being.” In 1934 she brought a group of orphanage children safely from Germany to the UK. Bertha Pappenheim wrote poetry, plays, novellas, and translations, including of Mary Wollstonecraft.

Annamaywongnew
ANNA MAY WONG is considered the first Chinese-American Hollywood star. Born and raised in California, she began acting at 14, then left high school to go into silent movies. Soon tiring of all the interesting Asian parts going to white actors, while she played stereotyped roles – “Lotus Flower”, “Honky-Tonk Girl”, “Tiger Lily”, “Mongolian Slave”, “A Flower of the Orient”, etc. – Anna May left for Europe in 1928. Greeted as a star in Berlin, she at least got to play women who didn’t die as part of the plot. She made friends with Marlene Dietrich (and Leni Riefenstahl) and gave a revealing interview to Walter Benjamin. After her triumphant return to the States, Anna May Wong finally got leading Hollywood roles – but by far not all the ones she wanted, with racism continuing to affect her career and her private life. Kino Arsenal recently screened a retrospective, and prizes in her name are awarded for excellence in film and in fashion design.

Sen_KuEu_logo_quer_EN

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!

*********************

447px-Bettina-von-arnim-grimm
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.

halide-edip-adivar

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.

Portrait-of-Anne-Lister

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.

Sen_KuEu_logo_quer_EN

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.

*******************************************

Sen_KuEu_logo_quer_EN