|Written by||Lynn Nottage|
|Date premiered||November 8, 2008|
|Place premiered||Goodman Theatre|
|Setting||Democratic Republic of Congo|
Ruined was commissioned by the Goodman Theatre (Chicago, Illinois) and is a co-production with the Manhattan Theatre Club. Nottage and director Kate Whoriskey traveled to Uganda to interview women as background for the play, which first was performed in 2007 in the Goodman Theatre New Stages Series. The play premiered on November 8, 2008 at the Goodman Theatre and ran through December 14.
The play opened Off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City Center – Stage I in previews on January 21, 2009, and officially on February 10, 2009. The production closed on September 6, 2009 after receiving nine extensions.
Both productions were directed by Kate Whoriskey, with a cast that included Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Cherise Boothe, Condola Rashād, Chiké Johnson, Kevin Mambo, William Jackson Harper, Chris Chalk, Russell G. Jones, Tom Mardirosian, Ron McBee, Simon Shabantu Kashama and Saidah Arrika Ekulona (Mama Nadi) who left the production in May 2009 and was replaced by Portia. Scenic design was by Derek McLane, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski, sound design by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, and original music by Dominic Kanza with lyrics by Lynn Nottage.
The European premiere of Ruined, directed by Indhu Rubasingham, opened for previews on April 15, 2010 with press night on April 22, 2010 at the Almeida Theatre in London. It closed on June 5, 2010. The cast included Jenny Jules as "Mama", Lucian Msamati, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Michelle Asante, Kehinde Fadipe, Okezie Morro, Silas Carson, David Ajala, Joel Kangudi, Steve Toussaint, and Damola Adelaja. Jenny Jules won the 2010 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance.
The Canadian Premiere was presented by Ellipsis Tree Collective] in Calgary, Alberta, August 2010.
It ran at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through April 30, 2011.
Ruined had its Australian premiere by THAT Production Company  in Ipswich, Queensland in 2013. It was directed and designed by Timothy Wynn and produced by Cassandra Ramsay, as a part of the Ipswich Festival. The production featured many actors who had fled the Congolese War and had relocated to South-East Queensland. Lynn Nottage sent a personal message to the team, encouraging the production's premiere. The production was included in THAT Production Company's nomination for a Groundling Award, for Outstanding Contribution to Theatre in Queensland.
The setting is a small tin mining town in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mama Nadi owns a poolroom and a bar and has customers who are both miners and soldiers of various factions. Despite an attempt to stay neutral, Mama Nadi finds that the factions continue to disrupt the nearby towns and mines. Mama Nadi’s bar is open to all. Her waitresses, "provide more than whiskey and food."
According to Playbill, "Nottage was planning a play on the war in Iraq, but newspaper reports rechanneled her focus to Africa, where she and her director, Kate Whoriskey, went in the summer of 2004....The specific target in this war is women, and the weapon of choice is rape and sexual abuse."
Ben Brantley in his The New York Times review, wrote: "Ms. Nottage, the wide-ranging and increasingly confident author of Intimate Apparel and Fabulation or, the Re-Education of Undine, hooks her audience with promises of a conventionally structured, purposefully plotted play, stocked with sympathetic characters and informative topical detail. She delivers on those promises. Yet a raw and genuine agony pulses within and finally bursts through this sturdy framework, giving Ruined an impact that lingers beyond its well-shaped, sentimental ending. . . . Ms. Nottage has endowed the frail-looking Sophie, as well as the formidable Mama, with a strength that transforms this tale of ruin into a clear-eyed celebration of endurance."
Awards and nominations
- Pulitzer Prize for Drama - Winner
- Outstanding Play – Winner
- Outstanding Actress in a Play, Saidah Arrika Ekulona – (nomination)
- Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, Condola Rashad – (nomination)
- Outstanding Director of a Play, Kate Whoriskey – (nomination)
- Outstanding Music in a Play, Dominic Kanza - Winner
- Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play – Winner
- Outstanding Lighting Design (Play or Musical) – Peter Kaczorowski (nomination)
- Outstanding Actress in a Play – Saidah Arrika Ekulona (nomination)
- Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play – Condola Rashad (nomination)
- Distinguished Production of a Play (nomination)
- Distinguished Performance Award, Saidah Arrika Ekulona (nomination)
- Outstanding Play (Manhattan Theatre Club and Goodman Theatre, Producer; Lynn Nottage, Playwright) – Winner
- Outstanding Director (nomination)
- Outstanding Lead Actress – Saidah Arrika Ekulona Winner
- Best New American Play Winner
- Quincy Tyler Bernstine Winner
- Saidah Arrika Ekulona Winner
- Russell Gebert Jones Winner
Theatre Communications Group has published the script. Ruined began stocking in stores November 1, 2009.
- Gans, Andrew and Jones, Kenneth."Lynn Nottage's 'Ruined' Wins Pulitzer Prize for Drama", Playbill, April 20, 2009, accessed June 8, 2016
- "Lynn Nottage Earns the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Drama for Ruined", goodmantheatre.org, accessed May 13, 2009
- Jones, Chris. "To create a play about African horrors, they went to Africa" Chicago Tribune, November 21, 2008
- "News Release, Ruined" Goodman Theatre, October 16, 2008 Archived August 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "'Ruined' Goodman Theatre" goodmantheatre.org, accessed December 20, 2015
- Jones, Kenneth."Pulitzer Winner 'Ruined' Gets Six Extra Weeks at MTC", playbill.com, April 30, 2009
- Jones, Kenneth."After a Raft of Raves, 'Ruined' Gets Two-Week Extension in NYC" playbill.com, February 11, 2009
- Billington, Michael. "Theatre. Ruined " The Guardian, 22 April 2010
- Varble, Bill. "OSF's 'Ruined' bears witness for victims of sexual violence" Mail Tribune, March 29, 2010
- Ellipsis Tree Collective
- "Ruined: An earthquake of acting that will shake you". The Globe and Mail, January 21, 2011.
- THAT Production Company
- Sommer, Elyse. "A CurtainUp Review. 'Ruined' " Curtain Up, February 5, 2009
- Arnold, Monty. "Ruined's Mother Congo — and Mother Courage" playbill.com, April 20, 2009
- Brantley, Ben."Theatre Review: War’s Terrors, Through a Brothel Window",The New York Times, February 11, 2009
- "The Pulitzer Prizes| Drama" pulitzer.org, October 25, 2011
- Gans, Andrew."Ruined and Billy Elliot Win Top Honors at Drama Desk Awards" playbill.com, May 17, 2009
- Gans, Andrew."Billy Elliot, Carnage, Ruined and Avenger Are Outer Critics Circle Award Winners", May 11, 2009
- Gans, Andrew."Billy, Carnage, Hair, Blithe and Rush Win Drama League Awards" playbill.com, May 15, 2009
- Gans, Andrew.Ruined, Fela!, Our Town and Humor Abuse Among Lucille Lortel Award Winners", playbill.com, May 3, 2009
- Jones, Kenneth."Groff, Nottage, Sondheim, Cromer, Pisoni, Korins Among 2009 OBIE Award Winners" playbill.com, May 18, 2009