Tuesday, 21 April 2009 08:28
By Joe Dziemianowicz DAILY NEWS
Pulitzer pride grows in Brooklyn. Lynn Nottage's play "Ruined," a haunting story of African women scarred by the brutal civil war in the Congo, has won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for drama. "I'm orbiting the Earth," said the delighted writer, who was at home in Boerum Hill when she learned Monday afternoon that she had won.
"I hope it will raise awareness about the issues that the play raises. The war ended in 2002, but the conflict and violence against women continues."
The title of the play refers to a woman's condition after she is raped and genitally mutilated.
Nottage, who had been considered the front-runner for the coveted prize, has often celebrated African-American New York women in her works, including a turn-of-the-century seamstress in "Intimate Apparel" and a riches-to-rags public relations executive in "Fabulation."
"I went further afield with 'Ruined,'" Nottage said. "I went in search of my African sisters. When I wrote it, I felt a greater sense of urgency simply because I feel the conflict is still raging, but interest is fading."
Inspired by Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage and Her Children," Nottage's drama is set in a Congolese brothel. It tells the story of the watering hole's wily and charismatic proprietor, Mama Nadi, and several young women who work for her who have been brutalized in the conflict.
Despite the grim subject matter, Nottage's play is filled with humor, music and hope.
"I wanted to depict the modern Africa in all its complexity, and to show the beauty and humor and what keeps people there going," she said.
Nottage, 44, is married to filmmaker Tony Gerber. They have a daughter, Ruby, 11. She said she hopes her win will inspire her child.
"My mom was incredibly politically and socially engaged," Nottage said. "I hope I pass that legacy on to my daughter."
The author said she plans to pass a portion of her $10,000 cash prize to the Panzi Hospital in the Congo, which does reconstructive surgery for women.
"Ruined" is running at Manhattan Theatre Club at 131 W. 55th St. in a joint production with Chicago's Goodman Theatre, where the play had its world premiere last year. A small committee of theater critics and artists determines nominated finalists, and the Pulitzer board picks a winner.
Finalists included "Becky Shaw" by Gina Gionfriddo and "In the Heights" by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes.