Prejudice in Venus Traces the Roots of Black Female Iconography
Robinson, Jamie Owen
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This paper aims to verify how a ‘freak’ show performer named The Venus Hottentot of the early 1800’s in England and in France, came to symbolize the sexualized view of the black female icon today. My thesis production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ play Venus will demonstrate how Eurocentric prejudice in the colonial era shaped the historical facts that permeated around this South African woman’s life and death. In keeping with the play’s revised Afrocentric perspective on these alleged facts, ideas about directorial concepts for this show will validate how this play is relevant to contemporary artists and audiences through Parks’ elegant storytelling. This potential narrative of victimization, that could easily come off as maudlin, will be proven to require a sardonic political edge in order to succeed. The director’s challenges and premise, the writer’s background, the play’s roots in truth and fiction, along with production hurdles to overcome will all be discussed.