BRUNSWICK — Bowdoin College’s department of theater and dance will present “Venus,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, on Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 24-26.

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 Musee 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.

“Venus” contains strong language as well as sexual content, and is intended for mature audiences only.

Performances are at 8 p.m. each of the three days, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, at Wish Theater, Memorial Hall. Admission is free, but tickets are required. They are available at the David Saul Smith Union information desk (725-3375) in advance. Tickets will also be available immediately before the show at the Pickard/Wish box office. Due to limited seating, tickets expire 15 minutes before showtime.


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