Speaking about Ruined, Charles makes an observation that feels personally resonant.
“It is about the strength of the human spirit. About overcoming things. No matter what goes on, you still find a way to live,” he says.
Adler is hoping that, as it has in other cities where it has been produced, Ruined will help inspire action and donations to help women in Congo. He’ll donate every penny of the $65-per-person ticket price to Friday’s preview of Ruined to the Footprints Foundation, a South Florida organization that helps fund surgery for rape survivors, train midwives and establish clinics in Congo.
Lorna Owens, a lawyer who heads Footprints, formed the foundation two years ago after seeing a CNN piece about rape as a weapon of war. The organization has raised $32,000 of its $75,000 goal, and she is optimistic about how it will make a difference. What haunts her, though, are the stories of women she met when she traveled to Congo last summer.
“One woman told me she was raped in front of her husband, and then her son was killed because he wouldn’t rape his mother,” she says. “We’re also going to build a clinic in a place where 13 people were buried alive. … There’s no word in any language to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ ”
Nottage confirms that Ruined has helped raise a great deal of money to help women in Congo. It has been produced at major regional theaters all over the United States, in Congo, Chad, Germany, Cambodia and elsewhere. But despite its Pulitzer, it hasn’t received nearly as many productions as Intimate Apparel (which she is now adapting for the Metropolitan Opera).
“I think that’s because of the subject matter and the size of the cast,” she says.
And there is that forever-festering issue of how frequently black plays do — or don’t — get produced.
“It’s important for a multitude of voices to be represented on all stages. Diversity is super, super important,” Nottage says. “Theater remains one of the last bastions of creative segregation. A theater might do one [diverse] play in a season, then not do another one for two or three years.”