Lynn Nottages Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined deals with the impact of war specifically, war in the Democratic Republic of Congo -- on the lives of women. In countries where terrible things are happening, women are often the focus of violence and rape is used as a tactic, a way to break men of the opposition by taking away the thing that grounds their lives: women and children, says visiting director Seret Scott.
The play is set in a brothel run by Mama Nadi, and the womens stories are based on interviews that Nottage conducted with refugees in East Africa. For many such women, Scott explains, a brothel is the only option: You know youre going to be fed, your medical needs will be met, and some of your mental needs. The alternative is to be alone with no protection and still have to do the same thing.
Nottages vision is broad and generous, and allows for complexity. Nobodys innocent, but nobodys really guilty, the director says. Its just the way things have happened. Many of the abusive soldiers, she points out, were forced into combat, some when they were as young as nine or ten.
Ruined is a huge, huge story told with grace and some humor, with music, and containing extraordinary stories of extraordinary people, Scott concludes. And despite all the grimness, it also offers challenge and hope. The Denver Center production opens at 7:30 p.m. tonight and runs through April 30 at the Ricketson Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Tickets start at $10; for more information, call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org.
Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1:30 p.m.; Mondays-Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. Starts: March 18. Continues through April 30, 2011