In Play Reviews

Tonight through Sunday, December 7, Profile Theatre presents concert stagings of two plays in rotating repertory. Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Ruined set in the Democratic Republic of Congo was originally inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s infamous anti-war modernist classic, Mother Courage and Her Children.

Profile has staged the stories side by side. Both are performed by the same eleven  actors of color. While wildly different in form and sensibility, both plays feature formidable matriarchs who use their ability to capitalize on wartime desires to survive and even profit from the brutalities of war.

Directed by LaTevin Alexander (Ruined) and Jamie Rea (Mother Courage), the performances are fully staged, book-in-hand presentations, designed to put the focus on the actors and the text. All performances will be accompanied by acclaimed percussionist Rob Smith with spare lighting and sound, minimal props and costumes.

Profile uses Tony Kushner’s 2010 adaptation for the staging of Mother Courage. Set in the 1600s during the Thirty Years War, the play follows Anna Fierling and her three children across the battlefields of Europe as they sell supplies from their wagon. The play has been hailed as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century and perhaps the best anti-war play ever written.

Ruined is set in a bar and brothel on the edge of a rain forest in the war-torn Congo. Managed by Mama Nadi, the bar serves customers from both sides of the war (government and rebel militia alike). The women in the brothel had already been “ruined” by rape and torture when they were pressed into prostitution. Inspired by interviews she conducted in Africa with Congo refugees, Nottage set out to paint a “three-dimensional portrait of the women caught in middle of armed conflicts”, which went “beyond their status as victims”.

The cast for both plays includes Bobby Bermea, Doren Elias, Wolfie Beachum, Quigley Provost-Landrum, Andrea White, D’Vonte Robinson, Julet Lindo, Johnny Crawford, Tyharra Cozier, Victor Mack, and Don Kenneth Mason.

The creative team includes Emily Wilkin, set design; Blanca Forzán, lights; Matt Wiens, sound; Wanda Walden, costumes; and Rob Smith, percussion.

Ruined runs Friday and Sunday, December 6 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 7at 2 p.m. Mother Courage and Her Children runs Saturday, December  7 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, December 8 at 2 p.m. at the Imago venue, 17 SE 8th Avenue, Portland 97214. Tickets are available online at www.profiletheatre.org.

All photos by Lauren Parker Photography.

 

 

 

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