Posts Tagged ‘Congo’

Last Thursday on the way home from a shoot I stopped at the Barnes & Noble in Iowa City. In the film/theater section I saw the book version of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined. It’s a play I saw last Saturday in New York and it seems like I’ve been blogging about it ever since. The Iowa City Barnes & Noble happens to be where I bought the printed version of Diablo Cody’s Juno script. (And until I bought the only copy they had of Ruined it sat just one shelf away from the Newmarket Press publication of the Juno script.)

It seemed to be a fitting way to bookend an Pulitzer Prize-winning play and an Oscar-winning screenplay. And I should point out another intersection for the two works is right here in the heartland. Ruined was commissioned and originally staged by the Goodman Theater in Chicago and Diablo Cody was born and raised in the Chicago area.

Though one story is set in the Midwest and one in the Belgian Congo they both feature strong female roles, they both use humor to deal with serious situations, music plays a key role in both stories, and they both come in at almost the same page count (Juno at 101 pages and Ruined at 97 pages).

Of course there are differences in the stories but perhaps the most encouraging thing (especially for the female writers out there) is how these two original works have been so well received. And while you can run down to a store today and get a DVD of Juno, seeing a performance of Ruined is a little more difficult. So do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Ruined at a local bookstore or at Amazon.

And just so you know Iowa isn’t out of touch (and you’re new to this blog), Diablo Cody got her B.A. in Media Studies at the University of Iowa and just a few months ago the theater group at UI performed Nottages’ play Intimate Apparel.

Related post:

The Juno-Iowa Connection

Lynn Nottage & Her Play “Ruined”

Scott W. Smith

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Until last Saturday afternoon I was unfamiliar with the name Kate Whoriskey. By the time the afternoon turned to evening I was sure that everyone would eventually become familiar with the name Kate Whoriskey. Whoriskey directed Lynn Nottage’s  Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined which just finished its run in New York. She’s been called “one of the most admired directors in the American theatre today.”

Whoriskey comes with solid credentials with an ungraduate degree from NYU and an MFA from the American Repertory Theater at Harvard (A.R.T.). After graduating from A.R.T. in 1998 she soon directed Ibsen’s The Master Builder. She’s directed plays in in Louisville, Utah, Alaska, Chicago as well as various theaters in California and New York. 

She recently has been appointed as the artistic director of the Intiman Theater in Seattle beginning in 2011. She has said that one of the reason to move from New York to Seattle is to escape commercial pressures of the New York theater scene as well as for more aesthetic freedom. (Maybe I should start another blog—“Playwriting from Iowa…or wherever you live outside New York.”

Whorisky’s role was not simply directing Ruined but helping Nottage in her research including traveling with her to Uganda to interview women who had been raped and abused in the Congo. It was an experience that had a profound effect on Whoriskey and she later told NPR:

“They were all beautifully dressed, these 15 women, so colorful and beautiful. And then we heard these stories. And the stories were devastating, and to hear them back to back. … I didn’t actually recognize that rape had such physical consequences. I always thought of the psychological, but not the physical consequences. It was hard to hear, over and over, how ruined these woman’s bodies were.” 
To watch a short video with Kate Whoriskey and Lynn Nottage visit Charlie Rose “A conversation about the play Ruined.


Scott W. Smith

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