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The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42Nd Street, New York, NY 10036

Show poster


Ended 4 Jun 2017 after 40 days

"A vivid, visually striking revival by the young director Lear deBessonet."


Closed 4 Jun 2017

The Obie-winning play comes to Signature Theatre

Suzan-Lori Parks' devastating, Obie-winning re-imagining of the fateful journey to Europe by Sarah "Saartjie" Baartman heads to the Signature Theatre this April. Helmed by by Obie Award winning director Lear deBessonet (The Winter's Tale), the cast will star Randy Danson, Adam Green, Birgit Huppuch and Obie Award winner Zainab Jah. First performed in 1996, Parks' play remains a stalwart part of African-American theater, and an important part of racial history and dialogue on both sides of the Atlantic.

Who was the "hottentot venus"?

Lured to Europe from southern Africa with promises of fame and fortune for her unusual figure (steatopygia), Baartman found herself paraded naked around London's seedy 19th century freak show circuit, and renamed as the Hottentot Venus. With Europe's fascination with African people reaching fever pitch, she became a figure of curiosity and even moral outrage by slavery abolitionists.

Upon meeting with a controversial French scientist, the "Baron Docteur", she embarked on a relationship with him in Paris after he "purchased" her from the sideshow - whereupon he betrayed her trust. Giving her a venereal disease, he had her committed to prison until her death and dissected her body for further racial studies, in particular her genitalia and brain. Venus asks us to examine our own relationships with each other, and our own bodies through the lens of somebody who's independence was sold back into slavery.

Additional Information


Opening night: 25 April 2017

Booking through until: 4 June 2017


Suitable for ages 18+ due to mature content

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Please note: The term Irene Diamond Stage at Signature Theatre and/or Venus as well as all associated graphics, logos, and/or other tradermarks, tradenames or copyrights are the property of the Irene Diamond Stage at Signature Theatre and/or Venus and are used herein for factual descriptive purposes only. We are in no way associated with or authorized by the Irene Diamond Stage at Signature Theatre and/or Venus and neither that entity nor any of its affiliates have licensed or endorsed us to sell tickets, goods and or services in conjunction with their events.

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