The Spoils of War

Lynn Nottage’s 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 women’s 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 you’re 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.”

Nottage’s vision is broad and generous, and allows for complexity. “Nobody’s innocent, but nobody’s really guilty,” the director says. “It’s 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
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

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Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman