The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World

Written by Shaun Prendergast
Directed by Joshua Ellison
September-October 2013 at Berger Park Coach House

In life, Julia Pastrana was afflicted with hypertrichosis, a rare genetic condition that causes hair to grow over the entire body.  She joined the ranks of her abusive husband’s freak show, becoming famous throughout the world as ‘The Ape Woman.’  In death, people realized she was so much more than that—a Mexican woman who spoke three languages; an exceptional dancer who yearned to be a mother.  Shaun Prendergast’s Midwestern premiere explored both sides of her story in a surreal, fractured fashion similar to The Elephant Man.  Performed in total darkness, The True History… challenged audiences to build their own perception of Julia Pastrana, and imagine the horror of her experience themselves.

Not to be missed... [A] cautionary tale of what happens when we can’t or won’t look away from human depravity.
— Splash Magazines
The novel format adds ... unexpected layers to an already interesting subject ... [T]he darkness heightens the sensory experience of sound and space: the inherently creepy din of the old-timey carnival barkers, tinny music and awe-struck rubes; the startling haunted-house quality of figures emerging all around you; and the sad, solemn voice of a woman who was brutally used and degraded in life and after death.
— TimeOut Chicago