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Goodman Theatre Launches World Premiere of RUINED 11/8


Chicago's Goodman Theatre opens its “Strong Women, Strong Voices” Owen Theatre Series with the world premiere of  RUINED by Lynn Nottage (pictured), directed by Kate Whoriskey and co-produced with Manhattan Theatre Club. Commissioned by the Goodman and first seen in the 2007 New Stages Series, Ruined was developed through Nottage and Whoriskey’s pilgrimage to Uganda—where countless interviews and interactions resulted in a portrait of the lives of the women and girls caught in the devastating armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Leading the Goodman’s cast in the role of Mama Nadi is Saidah Arrika Ekulona (Well on Broadway; Righteous Kill), who previously collaborated with Nottage and Whoriskey on the world premiere of Fabulation at Playwrights Horizons. Note: Ekulona replaces the previously announced Adriane Lenox, who has withdrawn from the production due to unexpected personal reasons

RUINED begins performances on November 8 (opening night is November 17) and runs through December 7. Tickets are $10 to $39. A complete performance schedule including dates, times and ticket prices appears at the end of this release. Ruined begins performances at Manhattan Theatre Club on January 21, 2009. The Sara Lee Foundation is the Owen Season Corporate Sponsor.

Lynn Nottage is a tremendously talented writer who, with her gorgeous, heart-wrenching new play Ruined, once again introduces us to places and persons with which we are unfamiliar—building bridges between cultures,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “Saidah Ekulona is a complex, brilliant actor, and the perfect steward to this devastating war-torn world. We’re delighted to welcome back Kate Whoriskey, and to partner with Manhattan Theatre Club in this premiere.” 

Set in the present-day DRC, RUINED is the captivating story of Mama Nadi (Ekulona), the owner of a canteen who serves up everything from a cold beer and a warm meal—to the company of a woman. Through the eyes of this savvy businesswoman who both protects and profits from the women whose bodies have become battlegrounds, Nottage captures the constantly shifting allegiances and tragic absurdity that marks the civil war in the DRC. Ruined, rendered with Nottage’s trademark humanity, clarity and surprising humor, gives a glimpse of a country that has suffered immeasurable losses since the beginning of this war that has raged for more than a decade. 

“I sought to sustain the complexity of the modern DRC, a country that’s been ravaged by a brutal war, and where the unspeakable has become commonplace,” said Nottage. “The challenge in writing the play was to find optimism where there is seemingly none, to mine the ugliness for seeds of beauty. The DRC is a place where hope and disillusionment do a fragile dance. It is in this tension of opposites that my play exists.”

About Saidah Arrika Ekulona and the Ensemble Cast

Saidah Arrika Ekulona appeared on Broadway in Well at the Longacre Theatre. Her off-Broadway credits include Well, Unconditional, The Square and Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365 Days, 365 Plays at Public Theater; Romeo and Juliet at New York Shakespeare Festival; Anon at Atlantic Theater Company; The Thugs at Soho Repertory Theatre; Speak Truth to Power at Culture Project; Fabulation at Playwrights Horizons; and A Streetcar Named Desire at New York Theatre Workshop. Her film credits include Righteous Kill, The Taking of Pelham 123, Two Lovers, The Second Line, Uncertainty, The Royal Tenenbaums, Happy Accidents, Alfie and Saving Face. Her television credits include The Sopranos (HBO), Queens Supreme (CBS); Sex & The City (HBO); Hope & Faith (ABC); and Law & Order (NBC). She received her MFA from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater.

The cast of RUINED is completed by Quincy Tyler Bernstine (Salima), Cherise Boothe (Josephine), Ali Amin Carter (Soldier #2), Chris Chalk (Jerome Kisembe), William Jackson Harper (Simon), Chiké Johnson (Fortune), Russell G. Jones (Christian), Simon Kashama (Soldier #1), Kevin Mambo (Commander Osembenga), Tom Mardirosian (Mr. Harari) and Condola Phyleia Rashad (Sophie).

About the Playwright

Lynn Nottage, whose work was most recently seen at the Goodman during the 2005/2006 season with Crumbs from the Table of Joy, directed by Chuck Smith, is the author of Intimate Apparel, which was produced in New York at Roundabout Theatre Company after its world-premiere production at Center Stage and South Coast Repertory and received numerous awards, including the 2004 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, the Outer Critics Circle Best Play award, the John Gassner Award, the American Theatre Critics/Steinberg 2004 New Play Award and the 2004 Francesca Primus Award. Her next play, Fabulation, or the Education of Undine, was first produced by Playwrights Horizons and received a highly acclaimed production at the Tricycle Theatre in London. Both plays are published in an anthology by Theatre Communications Group (TCG). Another anthology of her plays, Crumbs From the Table of Joy and Other Plays was published by TCG, and includes Crumbs From the Table of Joy; Las Meninas; Mud, River, Stone; Por’Knockers and Poof! Her plays have been produced and developed at theaters throughout the country, including Alliance Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, Vineyard Theatre, Freedom Theatre, Crossroads Theatre Company, Intiman Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Yale Repertory Theatre and Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, among many others. Nottage wrote the feature film Side Streets (Merchant Ivory Productions), directed by Tony Gerber. The film was an official selection at the Venice and Sundance Film Festivals. Currently, she is writing an adaptation of Edwige Danticat’s novel The Dew Breaker for HBO Films. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious 2004 PEN/Laura Pels Award for literary excellence and the 2005 Guggenheim grant for playwriting, as well as fellowships from Manhattan Theatre Club, New Dramatists and the New York Foundation for the Arts, where she is a member of the Artists Advisory Board. Nottage is an alumna of New Dramatists, a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” Award and a graduate oF Brown University and the Yale School of Drama, where she is currently a visiting lecturer. She is currently under commission to write plays for Royal National Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Wilma Theatre, Center Stage, South Coast Repertory and Roundabout Theatre Company. 

About the Director

Kate Whoriskey’s Goodman Theatre credits include Vigils, Heartbreak House, The Rose Tattoo and Drowning Crow. Her Off-Broadway credits include The Piano Teacher by Julia Cho at Vineyard Theatre, The Last Tree in Antarctica by Julie Cho at Ensemble Studio Theatre, the world premiere of Fabulation by Lynn Nottage at Playwrights Horizons and Massacre by José Rivera at LAByrinth Theater Company, of which she is a member. She also directed The Tempest at Shakespeare Theatre Company; the world premiere of Intimate Apparel, The Piano Teacher, Life is a Dream, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antigone and The Clean House at South Coast Repertory; The Master Builder at American Repertory Theatre; and Blue/Orange, Lady from the Sea and The Chairs at Intiman Theatre. She has worked with writers Nilo Cruz, Sarah Ruhl, Michael Oondaatje, ReGina Taylor and Said Sayrafiezadeh. Whoriskey has also directed at Theatre for a New Audience, Center Stage in Baltimore, Perseverance Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Sundance Theatre Lab, The Fisher Center, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and Geva Theatre. A graduate of New York University and the ART Institute at Harvard, she is currently a visiting lecturer at Princeton University and an associate artist at South Coast Repertory

The design team and additional artists for RUINED include Derek McLane (Set), Paul Tazewell (Costumes), Peter Kaczorowski (Lighting), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (Sound), Dominic Kanza (Original Music), and Randy Duncan (Movement Director). 

Tickets to RUINED are $10 to $39 and may be purchased online at, at the Goodman Theatre Box Office, 170 North Dearborn Street, or by phone at 312.443.3800. Mezztix are half-price mezzanine tickets available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online at on the day of performance, subject to availability; Mezztix are not available by telephone. When purchasing on, enter the promo code MEZZTIX. 10Tix are $10 mezzanine tickets for students available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online at on the day of performance, subject to availability; 10Tix are not available by telephone. Valid student I.D. must be presented when picking up the tickets at will call. Limit four tickets per student with I.D. Tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply. Discounted group tickets for 10 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820.

Photo credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.


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