Two of the foremost experimental theatre talents of the 1990s have collaborated on a new play that opened at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre in New York after debuting at Yale Repertory Theatre.
Director Richard Foreman, the recipient of six Obie Awards and a 1995 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, staged Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks, author of Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom the recently-published The America Play, and the screenplay for Spike Lee's forthcoming film, Girl 6.
Venus is the true story of the so-called "Hottentot Venus," a black woman who left her home in Africa to come to England in the 19th century, only to find herself an attraction in a carnival sideshow billed as the "One and Only Goddess of Love" celebrated for her "Great Heathen Buttocks." Eventually she escapes to Paris where she hopes at last to find love.
In Venus, Parks and Foreman use the real-life story as a chance to meditate on showbiz, fame and the powerful emotions that make people of different races seem alien, yet fascinating to one another.
The Public Theatre production runs through May 19.