What if you were forced to tell your history at the end of an arrow aimed at your head? That’s the onset for this adaptation of Temujin, known as The Secret History of the Mongols, a Mongolian epic saga about Genghis Khan’s life. This is a showcase that will grip your heart and squeeze.
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This episode was recorded in Portland, Oregon, which is the unceded territory of the Chinook Indian Nation, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the Clackamas Tribe.
If you are seeking ways in which to donate to Native communities, the Aniwa Gathering of Elders and the Boa Foundation are raising community relief funds for six reservations: Oglala Lakota, Hopi, Lenape-Ramapough, Apache, Diné (Navajo) and Tohono O’odham communities.
You can donate at their GoFundMe.
Ely: The word epic conjures images with ease: an armada of great ships sailing into war, bloody battles with monsters and mortals, elves in their forest castles and dwarves in their underground fortresses. Too rarely does the word epic become linked with intimacy, with deep and personal histories, and with conversation — a result of centuries of European white-washing of storytelling.
Ely: Come break those molds with Temujin, right here on Radio Drama Revival.
Ely: Hello, and welcome to Radio Drama Revival, the podcast that showcases the diversity and vitality of modern audio fiction. I’m your host, Elena Fernández Collins.
Ely: You might recognize the name Temujin by his other name: Genghis Khan, emperor of the Mongol empire. And if you find yourself overly familiar, and very bored, with epics like The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Beowulf, then this is the fault of, again, the white-washing of academia and media.
Ely: If anyone were to have his own epic saga, it would be Genghis Khan.
Ely: This tale, The Secret History of the Mongols, is the oldest surviving work in the Mongolian language. It was written for the royal family after Temujin’s death, containing an extensive genealogy and a description of Temujin’s life and the creation of the Mongol empire under his command. It’s a majestic work of literature, a treasure trove of information on language, culture, and history, and unique in its linguistic value.
Ely: Of course, when I say Mongolia, what image do you conjure? Is it Shan Yu, from Disney’s Mulan? Is it an old school 1960s Genghis Khan with a long mustache and goatee and a rampant bloodthirst?
Ely: Contrary to how Hollywood has stereotyped the portrayal of Mongolians in film, The Secret History of the Mongols spends a lot of time eliding over the battles and conquests. It doesn’t revel in the bloodshed, nor the action. Instead, it spends its time deep in conversation with Temujin, with his family, with the people who knew him, and those who were his rivals. It spends most of its time in close dialogues, the telling of history, and scenes better suited to a strummed instrument rather than a beaten drum.
Ely: This Temujin that you are about to hear is an adaptation of that epic, having found it beautifully suited to audio. It is careful about its approach to representation–no tortured Hollywood so-called Mongolian accents here–and to honesty, to the reality of a man who did lead armies to conquer places and people.
Ely: Turn down the lights–this is Temujin, Act I.
[[TEMUJIN ACT 1 PLAYS]]
(Transcribers Note: You can download the PDF scripts for Temujin Acts 1 and 2, provided by creator Roshan Singh, here.)
Ely: Jamukha is a wonderful perspective to take on Temujin’s life. The writer of The Secret History is anonymous, but the approach podcast writer Roshan Singh has taken here grounds both the audience and the storytelling. Now, he’ll take us back to when he first met the man who would become his enemy, in Act II.
[[TEMUJIN ACT 2 PLAYS]]
Ely: Temujin is a full five acts. You can learn more about them at their Facebook page, temujin dot audiodrama. If you loved what you heard, come back next week for my conversation with Roshan Singh. We’ll talk about racism in storytelling, epic sagas and history, and really big birds.
Ely: We run Radio Drama Revival on a bit of shoestring budget. If you’d like to help keep us afloat and featuring new, diverse, unique fiction podcasts and their creators, you can support us on Patreon, at patreon.com/radiodramarevival.
Ely: Other than Patreon, you can also support Radio Drama Revival by buying merch at our shop at radiodramarevival.com/shop. You might be able to hold a quiver of arrows in one of those tote bags.
Ely: And now, we bring you our Moment of Wil.
[[crickets chirping in the background as Fred speaks]]
Fred: Psych! Fred here, sorry. No Wil right now, but I do have some adorable sounds of baby goats.
[[baby goat sounds]]
Ely: That means it’s time for the credits.
Ely: This episode was recorded in Portland, Oregon, which is the unceded territory of the Chinook Indian Nation, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the Clackamas Tribe. If you are seeking ways in which to donate to Native communities, the Aniwa Gathering of Elders and the Boa Foundation are raising community relief funds for six reservations: Oglala Lakota, Hopi, Lenape-Ramapough, Apache, Diné (Navajo) and Tohono O’odham communities. You can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-indigenous-communities-in-usa. The link will be in our episode description.
Our theme music is Reunion of the Spaceducks by the band KieLoKaz. You can find their music on Free Music Archive.
Our line producer and associate interviews producer is Wil Williams.
Our senior interviews producer is Eli Hamada McIlveen.
Our associate producer is Sean Howard.
Our researcher is Heather Cohen.
Our social media manager is Anne Baird.
Our submissions editor is Rashika Rao.
Our executive producers are Fred Greenhalgh and David Rheinstrom.
I’m your host, Elena Fernández Collins, and this has been Radio Drama Revival: all storytellers welcome.