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Ruined: a story of pain and hope

In its first show of 2017, Pacific Theatre presents Ruined, the inaugural full-scale production from Dark Glass Theatre, which runs Jan. 26 to Feb. 17 on the PT stage. The Pulitzer Prize winning looks focuses on women’s lives as it unwraps the question of what is justified behaviour when we are in survival mode. Set in a small town in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the play centres around a bar called Mama Nadi’s, run by a woman of the same name. As a vicious civil war drags on, young women find their way to Mama Nidi’s, and to a dark kind of safety. Mama Nadi both protects and profits off the bodies of women who have become casualties of violence, ensuring survival by catering to both sides of the conflict.

Ruined’s director, Angela Konrad hopes to highlight both sides of Mama and her employees’ difficult choices. “It is a privilege to tell this beautiful story of resilient women whose bodies are being used as a battlefield in the ongoing conflict in the Congo,” shares Konrad. “We’ve assembled an outstanding cast who are not just passionate about this incredible play but also about creating awareness about sexual violence and in particular, the situation in East Africa.”

Playwright Lynn Nottage developed Ruined during her time in the DRC, where she interviewed girls and women about their experiences during the war. Nottage describes her play as being about ‘survivors, not victims’, and the twinned strength and fragility of her subjects is a powerful antidote to the sometimes distant and clinical portrayal of the Congolese conflict in western media.

Actor Tom Pickett provides a ray of hope as Mama Nadi’s suitor Christian, a travelling salesman and amateur poet. “As Christian in the play, I want Mama Nadi to know I love her, and that that love is unconditional and true. It is the difference between existing and living.” Ruined brings a complex story of pain and hope to the Pacific Theatre stage: a testament to endurance in a world that is torn, but never broken.

Ruined plays Jan. 26 to Feb. 17, 8 pm, Wednesdays to Saturdays (with a 2 pm Saturday matinee) at Pacific Theatre, at 1440 W. 12th Ave, Vancouver. Pay-what-you-can preview Jan 25 at 8pm. For tickets ($20 – $36.50) call 604.731.5518 or visit

Author: Steve Almond

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