The play, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, focuses on Mama Nadi (played by Jenny Jules), a mother figure loosely based on Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, who provides refuge for women affected by the civil war ravaging the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This production on Arena's signature stage features an expanded company; additional ensemble roles are played by University of Maryland students. Opening is April 28.
Director Charles Randolph-Wright said in a statement, "Lynn's words take you on a journey that is surprising, important, funny, devastating and joyous. I am eager to stage this play in the Fichandler because one cannot hide in the round — it's raw and in-your-face, and the audience will be right there in Mama Nadi's place."
The cast includes Segun Akande (Soldier); Jeremiah W. Birkett (Christian); Clifton Duncan (Jerome Kisembe); JaBen A. Early (Simon); Donnetta Lavinia Grays (Salima); Rachael Holmes (Sophie); James J. Johnson (Soldier; Aid Worker); Jenny Jules (Mama Nadi); Jamairais Malone (Josephine); Babs (Babatunde) Olusanmokun (Commander Osembenga); Psalmayene 24 (Fortune); Lawrence Redmond (Mr. Harari); Jude Tibeau (Soldier); plus cast members playing live music — David Foreman (Percussionist), Mongezi Chris Ntaka (Guitarist 1), Waldo (Guitarist 2) and Daniel Ssuuna (Traditional African Instrumentalist); and student ensemble members from the University of Maryland Jamar Brown, Ellentinya I. Dodd, Thony Mena, David Samuel, Anastasia Stewart and Hectorlyne P. Wuor, with student coordinator Renee Nyack.
The production team of Ruined includes set designer Alexander V. Nichols, costume designer ESosa, lighting designer Michael Gilliam, sound designer Lindsay Jones, dramaturg Amrita Mangus, musical coordinator Mongezi Chris Ntaka, fight director Robb Hunter, movement consultant Keith Lamelle Thomas, dialect coach Kim J. Bey, stage manager Kurt Hall and assistant stage manager Jenna Henderson. The Humanities Council of Washington, DC, has selected Ruined as the reading material for Live to Read, a citywide celebration of literature and literacy. More than 200 11th graders are reading the play through Live to Read, and many of them will see the production at Arena Stage. Visit http://wdchumanities.org/. Arena Stage is also hosting weekly panel discussions on Fridays during the run of the show to further explore the topics range addressed in Ruined, such as women's advocacy, refugees, sex trafficking and playwriting.
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is a national center dedicated to the production, presentation, development and study of American theatre. Under the leadership of artistic director Molly Smith and managing director Edgar Dobie, Arena Stage is the largest company in the country dedicated to American plays and playwrights.