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Missed Opportunity

Saidah Arrika Ekulona, left, and Russell Gebert Jones in Ruined

Saidah Arrika Ekulona, left, and Russell Gebert Jones in Ruined

When we went to Chicago last November, we had one free evening, a Saturday, which I hoped we could use to see the Chicago Symphony. But they weren’t playing that night. Instead, Orchestra Hall was home to a special concert by the Chinese pianist Lang Lang and friends. Given all the time I spent at Orchestra Hall when I lived in Chicago during the 1980-1981 academic year, I was eager to return. But I was also eager to attend a play at the Goodman Theater, and that same evening we had the option of seeing a new play, Ruined, by the playwright Lynn Nottage, who received a MacArthur Award in 2007. From what I read at the Goodman website, the play sounded interesting, though also perhaps painful, dealing with Congolese women who were rape victims. No doubt this is a simplistic description, but it’s what stayed with me, and I thought I might just rather go to a concert. Gail was content to let me decide, so that’s what we did.

I wrote about our evening with Lang Lang here. In February, Ruined opened in New York at the Manhattan Theater Club and received some good reviews, such as Ben Brantley’s in the NYT and Hilton Als’ in the New Yorker. When I read them, I wondered if we had made the wrong choice. But we did enjoy Lang Lang, and you can’t do everything.

The point of all this is that Ruined was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Drama today. The citation reads:

Awarded to “Ruined,” by Lynn Nottage, a searing drama set in chaotic Congo that compels audiences to face the horror of wartime rape and brutality while still finding affirmation of life and hope amid hopelessness.

Oh well.

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