A 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner, Lynn Nottage's Ruined is a difficult story - to watch and certainly to perform. The production, directed by Tom Stell, is in the last week of its run at Obsidian Art Space. The story takes place in a bar-and-brothel in the Congo. There's the no-nonsense madame, Mama Nadi, and the prostitutes she oversees, their customers and the soldiers and guerrillas fighting for control of the region. There's also smooth talking, happy trader Christian who stops in the bar as he makes supply runs ... and who happens to be in love with Mama Nadi. Actor Atseko Factor plays Christian.
Photo by Christine Weems Qamara Black as Mama Nadi and Atseko Factor as Christian in Ruined at Obsidian Art Space
Read our review of Ruined.
Christian is a complicated character. He appears happy-go-lucky, but he is well aware of the unstable situation of the region. He traffics in more than just dry goods; he also sells "ruined" women. (Rape survivors in the Congo are considered to be ruined and rejected by their family and friends. The outcasts often end up in brothels, such as the one seen in the play.) The play starts when Christian arrives at Mama Nadi's bar and sells her two traumatized women.
Photo Courtesy of Atseko Factor
Factor, whose father is from the Congo, found Ruined echoed the stories he heard in his family. "Growing up, I heard my father talk about the Congo, about how he wished we could go back home but couldn't because it was so chaotic and dangerous." In building the character of Christian, Factor used his father as a starting point. "He's the epitome of a Congolese man to me."
Ruined has received positive reviews with both critics and audiences singling out Factor's performance, along with that of co-star Qamara Black who plays Mama Nadi, for its excellence.More »