This March, Berkeley Repertory Theatre proudly presents Ruined, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A powerful new play about the harrowing lives of women in Africa, Ruined is written by Lynn Nottage and directed by Liesl Tommy. A collaboration between Berkeley Rep, Huntington Theatre Company, and La Jolla Playhouse, this production has already earned seven awards - including Outstanding Dramatic Production - from the San Diego Critics Circle. It begins previews in the state-of-the-art Roda Theatre on February 25, opens March 2, and closes April 10.
"In Ruined, the women do a fragile dance between hope and disillusionment in an attempt to navigate life on The Edge of an unforgiving conflict," Nottage remarks. "I was fueled by my desire to tell the story of war, but through the eyes of women, who as we know rarely start conflicts, but inevitably find themselves right smack in the middle of them. I was interested in giving voice and audience to African women living in The Shadows of war."
"With this play, Lynn Nottage transforms cataclysmic historic events into stunning drama," says Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. "She creates an astonishing array of characters and imbues them with a life force that is powerful and ultimately triumphant. By the end we are released, liberated from our preconceived ideas, and connected to people we don't know. This script combines with compelling performances and the exquisite work of our creative team to create a transcendent experience that I am honored to share with our audiences."
Ruined provides a bleak yet beautiful look at the lives of women in a land ruled by whiskey and bayonets. As civil war ravages the Congo, the lucky ones find a home - and a regular meal - in a ramshackle building that serves as both brothel and refuge. Whether merchant, miner, or soldier, the man you meet in the morning may be your enemy by sundown. Yet all of them come through Mama's door for booze and a bit of comfort. Mama Nadi protects her girls with rough compassion, even as she profits from their bodies. This timely script tells an intense and important tale filled with humanity, hope, and unexpected humor. When Mama talks, you'd better listen.
"Sincere, passionate, courageous, and acutely argued, Ruined is a remarkable theatrical accomplishment [with] a strongly affirmative sense," the Chicago Tribune reports. "This is both a celebration of the endurance and vitality of African women and an unstinting call for us to keep them safer." As the Wall Street Journal says, "Ruined, in which she shows us what things have come to in the bloody, brutal land that dares to call itself the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaves no doubt that the author of Intimate Apparel and Crumbs from the Table of Joy is one of the best playwrights that we have."
Ruined is supported by many generous sponsors. BART and Wells Fargo have renewed their commitment as season sponsors at Berkeley Rep, and the 2010-11 season producers are Marjorie Randolph and Wayne Jordan and Quinn Delaney. The executive producers for the local run of Ruined are Bill Falik and Diana Cohen, Jack and Betty Schafer, Shirley D. and Philip D. Schild, the Strauch Kulhanjian Family, and Jean and Michael Strunsky. The production sponsor is the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Philanthropic Fund.
Lynn Nottage's play Ruined won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, as well as the Drama Desk Award, the inaugural Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play, the Lucille Lortel Award, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, an Obie Award, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play. It made its world premiere at the Goodman Theater and its London premiere at The Almeida Theatre, and is playing at numerous regional theatres in the United States this year. Nottage's other plays include Crumbs from the Table of Joy; Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine, which received an Obie Award; Intimate Apparel, which received the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play and became the nation's most produced play in 2005-06; Las Meninas; Mud, River, Stone; Por'knockers; and POOF! Her many other honors include the August Wilson Playwriting Award, the Dramatists Guild's Hull-Warriner Award, the Guggenheim Grant for Playwriting, the MacArthur "Genius" Award, the PEN/Laura Pels Award for Drama, and the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. She is a graduate oF Brown University and Yale School of Drama.