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31st Mar 2010Posted in: News Comments Off
Venus Aids Trafficking Survivors
Renowned artists from the United States, Canada and South Africa help tell the story of 19th century human trafficking victim

It’s been 10 years since Fuel’s founder first produced Pulitzer Prize-winner Suzan Lori Parks’ play Venus in a dusty blackbox theater in Times Square.  Since then, Fuel’s team has presented the play in benefit readings in New York and South Africa with the help of Tim Robbins and other internationally acclaimed artists including Kathleen Chalfant, Joe Morton, and South Africa’s leading classical composer Bongani Ndodana.

Venus tells the story of Sarah Baartman, a young South African woman trafficked from Capetown to London 200 years ago.  Exhibited as the ‘Legendary Venus Hottentot’ in the freak shows of Piccadilly Square, Sarah became a legend throughout Europe, finally ending up in the hands of a French scientist determined to prove the anatomical lineage between Africans and apes.  After her death on the streets of Paris just 5 years after her arrival in London, the scientist performed an infamous dissection of Sarah’s corpse and finally declared to all the world that Sarah was in fact more animal than human being.  With support from Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith and other funders, Fuel’s presentations of the play have helped raise awareness of human trafficking in the US, UK, France, South Africa. 

Venus is slated to arrive in London in Fall 2010 in an all-star benefit reading to support therapeutic programs for survivors of slavery and torture. The benefit will mark the 200th anniversary of Sarah’s journey from South Africa to London.

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