Venus Spring 2011
February 24-26, 2011
Directed By Roger Bechtel
The year is 1810 and the place is London, where a young African woman dubbed the "Venus Hottentot" is creating a sensation and a scandal on the freak-show circuit with her abundant derriere. Rescued by the Baron Docteur for the purpose of medical study, the Venus and the Docteur fall in love, but he is forced to hide her away as his mistress. When news of the affair gets out, the Docteur must choose between his reputation and his one true love.
Venus is based on the true story of Saartjie Baartman, a young Khoi woman from South Africa, who was expatriated to London and exhibited as a "freak" for profit, brought to trial on charges of indecency, and finally studied in Paris by the famous scientist Georges Cuvier and his colleagues. After her death, her skeleton, preserved genitals, and brain were placed on display in the Musée de l'Homme, until they were removed from public view in 1974. In 1994, President Nelson Mandela formally requested that the remains be returned to South Africa, and finally, in 2002, they were repatriated and buried on her native soil.
Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist Suzan-Lori Parks sets the story of the Venus Hottentot in a boldly theatrical world that inflects theactual events of 1810 with contemporary references and allusions. In the 21st century, Venus implies, we should look at people from different cultures with great care, because our eyes can still deceive us.
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