Adrian Neblett, Agape Mngomezulu, Shayna Jones, CJ Jackman Zigante, and Makambe A. Simamba in the Pacific Theatre and Dark Glass Theatre's production of Ruined.
Adrian Neblett, Agape Mngomezulu, Shayna Jones, CJ Jackman Zigante, and Makambe A. Simamba in the Pacific Theatre and Dark Glass Theatre's production of Ruined.

In its inaugural full-scale production, Vancouver’s Dark Glass Theatre, presents Lynn Nottage’s drama Ruined, about the life of some of the women caught up in the vicious civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Set in a small town in the war-ravaged Central African nation, young women seek safety in a bar called Mama Nadi’s. Nadi both protects and profits off the bodies of these women who have become casualties of violence, ensuring survival by catering to both sides of the conflict. But a big question looms: just how long can she keep the war outside her walls?

We find out more about delving into this dark material with actor, Shayna Jones, who plays Salima.

This interview has been edited.

Working on this show must be a powerful experience.  What has it been like for you?

Yes, this show is very powerful for me as a woman, as a mother of small children who will grow to be men and women, and as a human being.

This story looks at the atrocities we commit against one another and forces us to ask, like the character Salima who spent five months enslaved as a concubine to rebel soldiers,  “how can man be this way?”

Tell me a bit about your character?

Salima is a woman of deep heart and strength, yet her body is not her own. Her body was captured, raped and enslaved by rebel soldiers who passed her around the brigade like a wash rag. When we meet her, she is still standing, but struggling to find her humanity in a body that has become the play thing of lost men.

How has it been working with this large cast? 

A gift. They are a force to be reckoned with. Full of talent and passion. I am humbled to be among their rank.

What has been an unexpected joy? 

My young daughter is with me while I rehearse. She is two months old, and spends the day in the nursery with friends and family of mine who come to kiss, cuddle and soothe her while I rehearse. When I’m not needed on stage I am with my sweet girl. Her perfection has been an anchor for me as I journey through this rehearsal process.

What are audiences going to experience? 

Something painful. Something poignant.

Why should they not miss it ?

Because we must enter into one another’s suffering, even if they are a world away.

Ruined plays Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre (1440 W 12th Ave, Vancouver) February 2-17. Visit http://pacifictheatre.org for tickets and information.