School of Drama mounts Suzan-Lori Park’s Venus

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Venus Drama Poster

TWO WEEKENDS ONLY: October 24-26 & October 31-November 2. Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6:00 p.m.

ADMISSIONS: Adults – $1000 / Students – $400 (with I.D.)

VENUE: Dennis Scott Studio Theatre, 1 Arthur Wint Drive, Kingston 5

BOOKINGS: Call School of Drama Box Office at (876) 968-0028

 

Synopsis:

Using a side-show carnival motif, Susan-Lori Park’s takes us on a satirical journey of ‘The Venus Hottentot’. Parks’ Venus is the story of Sarah Saartjie Baartman, a young woman of Khoisan heritage who in 1810, is taken from her South African homeland to be showcased as an oddity and curiosity in London and later Paris, under the appellation, ‘Hottentot Venus’. Parks juxtaposes Baartman’s sensuality, sexuality and femininity with her objectification, fetishization and exoticization. Parks’ unique dialogue creates moments that will leave you laughing, cringing, troubled and in true Brechtian style, thrust you into the jarringly strange. 

We see Baartman eventually emerge in all her show-ready glory. What her dress reveals are the burdens of history embodied by one woman. This is not merely the story of a woman with a large posterior, this is the story of a woman who is abducted (though seemingly complicit) from her homeland and is completely ‘othered’ in Europe where she is abused, treated like an animal and after five brutal years dies, unmourned. She dies after a miserable and poor existence in 1815 at the tender age of 25. Even in death her body does not belong to her as  she is dissected by Dr. Georges Cuvier and her skeleton is later exhibited in the Musee de l’Homme in Paris. 

Some hundred years later, her remains were eventually returned to South Africa in 2002 and her grave in Hankey in the Eastern Cape has since become an official heritage site. Giving Saartjie something she was never afforded in her short life…dignity.

The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts has been through several stages in its evolution. The four Schools—Drama, Music, Dance, and Visual Arts—started out at different locations in Kingston. Two of the Schools, namely the School of Art and the School of Music, are historic because of their establishment in 1951 and 1961 respectively, before the island gained its independence from Britain in 1962.

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