It’s not easy for an off-Broadway theater to pick up a Pulitzer Prize-winning play in the same year it was honored, much less a midsize theater in Minnesota. But that’s the coup that Mixed Blood pulled off, aided by a little negotiating with larger players, and as a result we’re now being treated to Ruined, at the West Bank theater now through November 22.
The drama centers around a businesswoman in Africa, though not just any businessman—a brothel owner, a madame, in the war-torn Congo. An opportunist who nonetheless finds her jungle outpost becoming an oasis for women fleeing the terror of rape and other abuses. The play was written by Lynn Nottage, a recipient of a so-called genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation. Her play Intimate Apparel was staged at the Guthrie Theater in 2005. The authentic nature of this play is the result of interviews that Nottage conducted with Congolese women. Incidentally, it’s the second Pulitzer winner in as many years to have made its debut in Chicago, the first being August: Osage County.
Mixed Blood has a sharp, short video on its homepage offering some insights from the director and glimpses of the action onstage (put together, I’m told, by the talented videographer working with Dominique Serrand on his show with Steven Epp currently at the Southern Theater).