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.
Historical Racism With Contemporary Parallels
Justifying the Demonization of Another
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.