A new musical that explores race in America both past and present.

This new and original musical recounts the startling true tale of a Mbuti man, Ota Benga, taken in the early 1900s by missionary and anthropologist Samuel Verner for exhibition at the St. Louis World’s Fair and, later, The Bronx Zoo. Displaced and cruelly exploited, Ota Benga is left to marginally exist in a world he does not understand, never able to return to his homeland. This captivating new musical seamlessly blends fiction, history, dance, traditional African Congo music, ragtime, as well as contemporary melodic rap styles.

Savage Explores

Historical Racism With Contemporary Parallels

Justifying the Demonization of Another

Celebrating Community

The form

This musical theatre exploration of a relatively unknown moment in our country’s history is framed by a contemporary black woman who serves as our narrator throughout. Her purpose, as she sings in the opening number, is to ask us “to face a truth we haven’t yet faced”. The ensemble represents both historical figures and their contemporary selves as they traverse the landscape of racism in both the past and the present. We meet Ota Benga and his ‘handler’ Samuel Verner and trace their unlikely union from its inception to its tragic conclusion.

Conceived & Developed by Karla Koskinen

Book and Lyrics by Tommy Newman

Music by Jaime Lozano and Tommy Newman

Translations by Dr. Kazadi Wa Mukuna

The Savage Creative Team

My wife and I saw Savage last evening and loved the story, the music and the dance. It was the best theater we have seen in Birmingham in our 29 years here. We enjoy and see theater in multiple venues such as in NYC, at Louisville’s Humana New Play Festival, Atlanta’s Alliance, at Shaw Festival, in Williamstown and at ASF. Clearly, Savage has legs. Bring this to a major regional theater or off-Broadway. We expect it will do well.

–Theatre Patron