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Conceived by Karla Koskinen

Book by Tommy Newman and Quinton Cockrell

Lyrics by Tommy Newman

Music by Jaime Lozano and Tommy Newman

In the early 1900’s, an American man, Samuel Verner, was hired to travel to the Congo and acquire men from the forests to be displayed with other indigenous people at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Among those men was Ota Benga, a Mbuti man who had been taken captive by Belgian mercenaries, exploiting the native population for rubber. What follows is an examination of Ota Benga’s story in America– his relationship with Samuel Verner, his experiences at the World's Fair, and most cruelly, his being displayed for several weeks at the Bronx Zoo. This musical intends to explore the history around this shameful moment, and to ask how such events could transpire. Moreover, after a century of progress, what has changed? What are the cages that separate us today… at our borders, in our prisons, in our work, and in our hearts?


Royzell D. Walker, Toy Matthews, Caleb Clark, Joe Condon, Victoria Cruz, Devin Franklin, Gary Fuqua, Raiya Goodman, Kristen Hall, Eboni Janaé, Matthew Kelly, Azalea Grace Martin, Justine Nelson, Chance Novalis, Peyton Overstreet, Khalia Reeder, Brian Wittenberg, Nina Ballon, Briana Hernandez, Nick Linhardt, and Jori Rutledge.

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