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Where to begin with: Deadly Voices From the House

To mark the 2020 National Reconciliation Week, we took a look back through our Deadly Voices from the House podcast to help you navigate the library that is brimming with fascinating yarns.

Hosted by Rhoda Roberts, AO, an acclaimed journalist, presenter, actor and Head of First Nations Programming Deadly Voices includes a diverse selection of global First Nations arts leaders who share intimate stories of culture, identity and community.

The episodes are filled with wry humour, and by turns, enlightening, confronting and compelling. This list includes some of the most downloaded episodes, staff favourites and conversations commemorating important moments in time.

Letters to Cook | Lisa Reihana and Nayuka Gorrie

In this episode of the two part series Letters to Cook, participating artists from New Zealand Lisa Reihana, and Australian Nayuka Gorrie respond to the events of 1770 with funny, moving and personal reflections of what First Nations people would say to James Cook if they could speak to him today. As they wrestle with the lingering legacy of one man and his colonialist mission, the two women bring their perspective on the invasion of their territories and question whether Cook would have carried out the act of colonisation if he knew of the tragedy that would ensue.

The conversations were recorded during the creative development of the Indigenous World Art Orchestra and include spoken word, singing and poetry. Letters to Cook was released this April to mark 250 years since Cook’s arrival.

Natives Go Wild | Seini Taumoepeau

As a performer in the Sydney Opera House original production Natives Go Wild, Seini Taumoepeau, discusses the responsibility she felt performing the story of the first Indigenous circus performers.For many Indigenous people in the 1900s, joining the circus was one of the only ways to evade government run missions and achieve economic independence. In a combination of dance, circus, burlesque and cabaret, Natives Go Wild, reveals the exploitation that was hidden under the guise of showbiz razzle dazzle. In her conversation with Rhoda, the Tongan-Australian veteran of Pacific Arts & Culture, also tackles how her experience as a First Nations performer is influenced by practices of the past.

This episode is part of a miniseries that includes conversations with the cast and crew of Natives Go Wild.

Beau James | Transitioning

In this breathtakingly honest episode, we hear from Beau James (who was known as Donna Carstens at the time of the recording) who describes his experience transitioning as a First Nations person. Beau discusses the history of sistergirls (transgender Aboriginal people) who existed in communities long before the arrival of Captain Cook.

He also takes us on a journey of self realisation that delves into the impact of a society that criticises their gender, the indoctrination of Christianity and subsequent impact on gender norms while also exploring what exactly is in a name.

Beau is a member of the Mununjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from south-east Queensland, with links to Stradbroke Island.

Ben Graetz | Performing

Coming to you just after the ‘Yes’ vote, Ben Graetz – AKA Miss Ellaneous – is an Indigenous drag queen who in 2017 co-founded Miss First Nation, a search for Australia’s best Indigenous drag performers.

As the organiser of the Darwin Pride Festival, Ben chats through the trials and tribulations of transporting a Mardi Gras float all the way from Darwin to Sydney, and the harrowing homophobia in communities stemming from the influence of Christianity.

Patricia Ansell Dodds & Mervyn Rubuntja | Badu Gili

Badu Gili, meaning ‘water light’ in the language of the traditional owners of Bennelong Point, the Gadigal people, is a free experience that projects Aboriginal art on the Opera House sails every day at sunset.

In this episode, we hear from two of the Badu Gili artists who discuss their work – Western Arrernte watercolourist Mervyn Rubuntja and Central Arrernte/Mudburra painter, lecturer and traditional healer Patricia Ansell Dodds.

In conversation with Rhoda, the artists discuss the importance of having Aboriginal art on the Opera House sails, the seasonal changes of the MacDonnell Ranges and the initiation of Aunty Dodds, a member of the Stolen Generation, back into her community.

[Read another interview with Patricia and more about the Badu Gili story]

Dalisa Pigram: Gudirr Gudirr

In this fierce and profoundly personal episode for NAIDOC week, Rhoda speaks to Dalisa Pigram, founding member and co-artistic Director of Marrugeku.

Muggera Company is at the forefront of Indigenous dance and Dalisa is one of Australia's most revered Indigenous dancer-choreographers. While discussing her powerfully emotive solo work Gudirr Gudirr Dalisa also reflects on finding culture in belonging and the resilient shapeshifters that make up her community and her ancestry. Rhoda and Dalisa discuss the suicide epidemic in Indigneous communities and reveal their own heartbreaking experiences of loss.

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