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GableStage closes season with eye-opening story by Lynn Nottage, "Ruined"

mcneir | 9/10/2012, 11:30 a.m.

Lynn Nottage has earned her way to the top of Americas playwrights regardless of race. But the achievements of this Brooklyn-born graduate of Yale School of Drama could be considered even more amazing because she is a Black woman. Of course, Nottage would probably beg to differ. And critics just say shes amazingly talented. Consider that shes received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Grant, received an OBIE for her play Fabulation as well as the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for her play Ruined. And to mark the end of a banner season for the GableStage at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, producing artistic director Joseph Adler has chosen Nottages Ruined. The play opens Sept. 8th and runs through Oct. 7th and shares the plight of women in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. I wanted to end the season with a bang and certainly this play will move peoples hearts, Adler said. It deals with issues that are happening each day in the Congo where rape is used as a weapon against women. This is what many Africans face and its used against tribes with great effect because it destroys peoples relationships and their families. But in a way that only Lynn Nottage can, when the play is over we dont feel depressed and hopeless. Instead, she shows that even in the midst of terror and degradation, people can still grow, survive and change. Women can and do somehow survive. An extraordinary South Florida cast Adler notes that the cast reflects the great but often hidden talent of Black actors in South Florida. We have an outstanding cast 12 are from South Florida and all but one is Black, he said. I believe audiences will be particularly impressed with Lela Elam who plays Mama Nadi [the lead character, a madame], Jade Wheeler, Renata Eastlick and Trenell Mooring. The later three portray women in Mama Nadis brothel and really do a fine job. This production will certainly demonstrate that there is incredible talent in the Black community right here in South Florida. The actors task is to interpret this fine work which isnt easy. Nottage takes a very sensitive issue, puts it in the forefront, explores all the elements and then creates a play that is theatrical and full of inventions. How do you say something positive and uplifting when you are in the midst of chaos? Call 305-445-1119 for more information. Editor's note: Adler did not say enough about the performance of lead actress, Elam, but we will. She is outstanding in this fast-paced production and is supported by an equally-talented cast. Eastlick, Wheeler and Mooring are a phenomenal trio that keep this show jumping and the audience jumping out of its seats. Hats off to the rest of the cast as well.By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com