Contact: Victoria Winkelman or Kami Duncan
SMU Meadows School of the Arts
(214) 768-3785 or (214) 768-2788

October 16, 2002


DALLAS (SMU): The Division of Theatre at Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts will present Suzan-Lori Parks' drama Venus, Oct. 30 -- Nov. 3 in the Greer Garson Theatre of the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. Show times are 8 p.m. Wed.-Sat. and 2 p.m. Sat. & Sun. Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and $6 for students/SMU faculty and staff. Parking is available at Hillcrest and Binkley and in the parking garage beneath the Meadows Museum. For more information, call the Meadows Ticket Office at 214-768-2787. (NOTE: Performance contains adult situations and strong language.)

Winner of the 1996 Obie Award for Best New American Play, Venus focuses on the life of an African woman lured to England in the early 19th century with the promise of becoming a dancer, only to be caged and forced to perform as a cheap sideshow freak. The play is loosely based on the true story of Saartje Baartman, "the Venus Hottentot," whose exhibition led to a court case to determine whether the exhibitioner should be sentenced under England's anti-slavery laws. From this story, Parks has created an epic play dealing with issues of racism, sexism and economic oppression.

The play will be directed by Rhonda Blair, Ph.D., professor of theatre at the Meadows School of the Arts. Blair has directed and acted in numerous productions since 1970, and has done solo performance work since the mid-1980s. She also has given workshops and presentations on feminism, theatre and performance, including several in Wales, Germany, Cuba, and Poland. Her essays have appeared in Theatre Journal, Theatre Topics and other publications and books. Locally, she has been nominated for a Leon Rabin award for best direction of Echo Theatre's Stop Kiss; she has also created two original performance pieces for Echo, American Jesus and American Burka. Her special interests are feminism and theatre, acting theory and cognitive neuroscience, alternative performance, and Chekhov and Ibsen.

The 2002-2003 theatre season of SMU's Meadows School of the Arts is sponsored by The Dallas Morning News.