We were thrilled to welcome the cast of RUINED, the Pulitzer prize-winning drama, to Washington for a staged reading on Monday night. Eager to get the real-life message of the play out to an audience of D.C. influentials, the cast donated their performance, which they delivered to a packed house at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater.
The play, set in a mining town in eastern Congo circa present day, tells the story of Mama Nadi, a brothel owner who acts as both a protector and exploiter of women as she tries, with increasing difficulty, to keep the war at bay. The play also highlights the scramble for Congo’s minerals that is perpetuating the violence.
Award-winning playwright Lynn Nottage crafted the play’s leading women characters– portrayed stunningly by Portia (Mama Nadi), Condola Rashad (Sophie), Quincy Tyler Bernstine (Salima), and Chrise Boothe (Josephine) – based on her conversations with Congolese women and survivors living in refugee camps in Uganda. Nottage’s exposure to these first-hand testimonies gives RUINED a strong grounding in the realities of the war that continues to plague eastern Congo, in which women bear the brunt of the violence.
The event closed with a brief discussion between playwright Lynn Nottage, renowned journalist Chouchou Namegabe (who will receive the Knight International Journalism Award tonight), and Enough co-founder John Prendergast, who emphasized the role that each of us – as consumers of conflict minerals – can play in helping to end the violence.
We owe a special thank you to Lynn Nottage and Kate Whoriskey, the play’s director, and to the cast and musicians who traveled from as far away as California to take part in Monday’s performance. The Kennedy Center’s Alicia Adams and Erik Wallin and the Center for American Progress’ Marlene Vasilic were early supporters of our effort to bring RUINED to D.C. and generously worked to open the Kennedy Center’s doors to this important event.
Finally, thank you to those of you who turned out on Monday night and were part of a very engaged audience. Please stay tuned – there is much work we can do in the coming months to get the word out about the atrocities occurring in eastern Congo and ensure that our elected officials get involved in ending the trade in conflict minerals that is helping to fuel violence against Congo’s women.
Based on the outpouring of interest in this event it’s clear that D.C. presents the ideal audience for RUINED. We’re hopeful that the staged reading will lead to a full production in Washington that can reach many more people and generate even more advocacy around its crucial theme.
Photos: (left to right) Enough’s John Prendergast greets Ambassador from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Faida Mitifu; actors perform staged reading of RUINED; Prendergast with journalist Chouchou Namegabe and playwright Lynn Nottage. (Credit: Daniel Schwartz)