Zainab Jah and the cast of Venus at the Pershing Square Signature Center.
Zainab Jah and the cast of Venus at the Pershing Square Signature Center.
(© Joan Marcus)

Signature Theatre will present a free panel discussion Saturday, May 20, at 4:30pm in conjunction with its production of Suzan-Lori Parks' Venus, directed by Lear deBessonet.

The conversation, titled Body/Image: Creating and Maintaining Intersectionality in Art, is part of the Signature Spotlight Series, World of the Play. The discussion will be moderated by actor, playwright, and scholar Michi Barall (stop. reset.) and will feature actor and disability advocate at Inclusion in the Arts Christine Bruno, interdisciplinary artist and artEquity facilitator Ty Defoe, and actor Mirirai Sithole.

The event will cover the following topics: "In the current political climate, what is the responsibility of artists to create and produce work that supports a diverse group of identities? How do we tell stories of exploitation, without being exploitative? What role does identity play in the act of live theatre? Featuring a panel of artists and scholars, this discussion will explore how we might reclaim painful narratives as part of an ongoing movement of intersectionality in art, and how we support inclusion and diversity when creating new works."

Venus tells the story of Saartjie Baartman, who, traveling from her home in southern Africa for what she hoped would be a better life, became an unfortunate star on the 19th-century London freak show circuit. This Obie Award-winning play gives life to the story of Baartman's journey to London, her rise to fame as the "Hottentot Venus," and her eventual relationship with a French scientist.

The cast stars Zainab Jah as Baartman, alongside Hannah Cabell, John Ellison Conlee, Randy Danson, Adam Green, Birgit Huppuch, Kevin Mambo, Patrena Murray, Reynaldo Piniella, Julian Rozzell, and Tony Torn.

For tickets and more information, click here.