“I've seen the impact [Ruined] has had on high school students, who have been incredibly moved. The students range from some of the toughest schools in Brooklyn to private schools in Manhattan. They respond to the play because the characters by and large are teenagers- they are 18 year old girls and 18 year old boys who are in the midst of a struggle that is probably not so distant from what they're going through in their own lives, but the context is profoundly different and I think it will be incredibly engaging for them. I also think it's important for young students to think more globally. One of the things that I learned throughout my travels is that folks overseas engage with the world much more readily than we do in the United States. You'd be hard-pressed to ask an American student to name all the countries in Africa. They would be hard-pressed to answer who are the presidents of certain countries and what are the natures of their conflicts. It is extremely important, if we want to continue as a culture that values education and learning, to understand that we don't live in isolation and that what happens overseas impacts us, but I think that we don't think that way.”
– Lynn Nottage
Ruined by Lynn Nottage is recommended for 11th grade readers and above. In general, there are several ways to approach Ruined. The play can be analyzed and interpreted with the tools of literary criticism; it can be used as an introduction to talk about the Congo, civil war, human rights or sexual violence against women; it can serve as a basis to discuss the influence of the Western World in Africa through colonialism and the explotation of resources; it can be seen as an example of the increasing emergence of female African-American playwrights.
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Teaching Resources Available for Download
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival prepared several suggestions on how to teach Ruined. Click here to take a look at the suggestions.