Benefit Performance of “Ruined” for Women for Women International

Women for Women International has added one more exciting endeavor to its list of upcoming events.

On Friday, April 22, we will have a special benefit performance of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined, at the newly reopened Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, DC. Prior to the play, a special pre-theater dinner and panel discussion will take place, comprised of highly knowledgeable experts on both the DRC and issues facing women survivors of war there. The panel will feature Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of WfWI; Dr. Paul Bolton, Associate Scientist for the Center for Refugee and Disaster Studies and the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Anthony Gambino, former DRC USAID Head of Mission; Ruined playwright, Lynn Nottage; and WfWI DRC Country Director, Christine Karumba. Danuta Lockett, WfWI Board member and Senior Advisor to the Victims Torture Fund, will serve as moderator for the panel.

Set in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ruined tells the story of tavern owner Mama Nadi, a shrewd matriarch who both protects and profits from the women whose bodies have become battlegrounds “ruined” by brutality and war. Inspired by interviews conducted in Africa, this searing play is an engrossing and uncommonly human story told with humor and song. The Chicago Tribune called it “a remarkable theatrical accomplishment … sincere, passionate and courageous!”

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a production meeting for Ruined at the Arena Stage, where I was introduced to Ruined Director Charles Randolph-Wright, who shared his vision of the play. Charles is a Playwright-in-Residence for Arena Stage, and directed the Arena Stage’s highest grossing production in its history, last year’s Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies.

Arena Stage’s production of the play will be the first time it is shown “in the round”, in the center’s Fichlander Stage. The cast is a mix of DC locals, including local-area university students, and actors who have been with Arena Stage for years. Playwright Lynn Nottage hand-picked the actress who will play the lead character Mama Nadi, selecting Jenny Jules, who portrayed Mama Nadi at the Almeida Theater in London last year, winning a Critic’s Circle Theater Award for Best Actress for her work. ESosa, a finalist from Project Runway, season 7, will be designing the costumes for the production.

As a sponsor of the production, Women for Women International will be featured in the program book for every production of the play, running through June 5. In addition, WfWI will have a table with materials for every show.

Tickets are still available for our April 22 preview benefit – this is an excellent opportunity to see an important work detailing the day-to-day lives of women survivors of war in the DRC, and to introduce a friend to Women for Women International. Please feel free to contact me for any additional information or ticket inquiries at lgillen@womenforwomen.org or call (202) 521-9600.

I hope to see you on April 22!

Thank you!

Laura Gillen
Women for Women International

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