Ruined was commissioned by the Goodman Theatre (Chicago, Illinois) and is a co-production with the Manhattan Theatre Club. Playwright Lynn Nottage and director Kate Whoriskey traveled to Uganda to interview women as background for the play.
As a brief background, Northern Uganda has suffered from civil unrest since the early 1980s. Hundreds of people were killed in the rebellion against the Ugandan government, and an estimated 400-thousand people were left homeless. Political violence increased in Kampala with the 1998 and 1999 bombings of several popular restaurants nightclubs, and other public places. Rebels were most active in the northern and western sections of Uganda.
The violence that swept Uganda inflicted a particularly heavy toll on women. Economic hardships were felt first in the home, where women and children lacked economic choices available to most men. Women’s work became more time-consuming than it had been; the erosion of public services and infrastructure reduced access to schools, hospitals, and markets. Even traveling to nearby towns was often impossible. Some Ugandan women believed that the war years strengthened their independence, however, as the disruption of normal family life opened new avenues for acquiring economic independence, and government reports suggested that the number of women employed in commerce increased in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Unfortunately this employment consisted mostlyof prostitutingthemselvesto earn money and thisis the historical topic that ruined talks about.
The play takes place in a nightclub, so to speak, the influence for the setting might have been the fact that there were many nightclub bombings during the war along with the fact that these environments were the only safe place for women who are “ruined” to go. This is the source of the title of the play.
Since its opening performance in November 2008 Ruined has premiered and performed worled wide with notable performances. 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. Ruined ran during the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2010. It ran at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through April 30, 2011. A production in Toronto, Ontario at the Berkeley Street Theatre in 2011.