PW Presents: ‘Leo Baum’s Guide to Articulating a Skeleton

Fletcher Bell '16 as Leo Baum.

Fletcher Bell ’16 as Leo Baum.

The most recent PW show, Leo Baum’s Guide to Articulating a Skeleton, is ostensibly based on a series of historical events set off by an explorer’s failed excursion to the North Pole in 1897. The explorer, an American named Robert Peary (who ten years later did reach, or very nearly reach, the North Pole) made acquaintances with an Inuit tribe as he passed through Alaska, and convinced a small number of the tribsemen to return with him to New York. Those that came were taken into the custody of New York Museum of Natural History archaeologists; within a year, all but one died of tuberculosis.

The survivor, Minik, was a young boy at the time, and a Museum employee adopted him and raised him in New York. Minik’s father was among the deceased Inuits, but never received a proper burial, as the museum wished to study his bones; a teenaged Minik, discovering this ruse, initiated an ultimately unsuccessful struggle with the museum to regain possession of the skeleton.

All of these things lurk in the margin of Leo Baum, but none are at the heart of the play–that role falls to Leo Baum (Fletcher Bell ’16), an elementary school student whose father, Saul, seems to have adopted Minik, now grown to adolescence. (In real life, a curator named William Wallace adopted Minik.)

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