From the Director Liesl Tommy

Ruined opened in New York City in 2009 to rave reviews and rapt audiences. The play received numerous extension dates — and a Pulitzer Prize.

I was thrilled to get the opportunity to direct this production of Ruined for La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Rep and the Huntington Theatre, and previously at Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

One of my great challenges as an African artist is to get people to care about African stories. The average person is, in my experience, somewhat numb to the decades of news about strife and brutality in various African countries. It is all terribly confusing. And it seems very far away.

The war in Democratic Republic of the Congo is acknowledged to be the deadliest world conflict since World War II. In the eastern part of the Congo, where our play lives, 200,000 females have been reported raped in the past decade. Villages have been destroyed, and the very fabric of community life is gone. Territorial control means access to the mineral riches found in the forests of the Congo, specifically coltan, a key element in cell phones, computer chips and PlayStations.

In many ways, the war in the Congo is not so far away from us. In fact, we all carry a little piece of this war, daily, right in our pockets and purses and homes and offices. We don’t have flying cars, but we are massive consumers of all kinds of futuristic electronics — gadgets that improve our lives in lots of ways but that also have consequences, good and bad, in other parts of the world.

I believe our great cause as human beings in this century is to continue to find compassion — and to understand that people everywhere are interconnected. We must, because we are them. And they are us. Lynn Nottage shows us this in Ruined. Through her play, we reconnect with our humanity and with those people in that faraway war.


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