“The International” by Tim
Ruddy Premieres on Broadway
By R. Bryan Willits, Editorial Assistant
July 27, 2015
The International, a play about war and genocide in our age by Irish actor and playwright Tim Ruddy, has made an aptly timed return to the stage as the 20-year anniversary of the Bosniak genocide in Srebrenica is mourned.
The recent Off-Broadway return of The International is fueled by Urbanite Theatre of Sarasota Florida, which aims to give new life to plays that did not reach their full potential in their original run.
Originally performed at Origin Theater Company’s 1st Irish Theater Festival in 2013 where Ruddy was awarded Best Playwright and Van Driest won Best Actress, the play had a one-month run off-broadway before being cancelled.
Directed by Christopher Randolph, The International stars Timothy Carter as Hans, a thoughtful Dutch soldier brought to the theater of war for the first time as part of an international peacekeeping force. Also starring is Carey Van Driest, who plays Irene, a loving mother and wife who experiences the annihilation of her local culture and of the small farming community of her ancestors at the hands of the malevolent invading forces. Meanwhile, Dave (Ted Schneider), a recently unemployed Los Angeles-based working man with delusions of being an artist, watches the horrors of the same war on television screens in living rooms and dive bars. Ruddy’s thoughtfully written script implores its audience to examine their relationship with the international community, and leaves one to question their own complicity and complacency in an age of media supersaturation.
Ruddy’s play affords its viewers an intimate glance into the lives of these three vastly different individuals, all of whom become involved in a war strikingly resonant with the Bosnian War of 1992-1995. Though the play was directly inspired by Ruddy’s own experience of helplessly watching television broadcasts of the events of the Balkan conflict, it is not solely nor specifically about this war alone. The International elicits many quandaries concerning the role of the media in such conflicts by juxtaposing the effects of genocide on those directly involved in the grim realities of war, with those who are complicit in turning war into a spectacle by watching scenes of degeneracy and bedlam from afar.
While Bosnia might seem culturally and geographically distant from western Europe, just as genocides in the West often seem to be a part of a more brutish past, Ruddy’s play forces the uncomfortable acknowledgement that western culture is not as far removed from such atrocities as we might like to think.
Speaking with the Irish Voice before the premier, Ruddy said it’s revival is important. Even as passive observers in the age of the internet and social media, “we are even more complicit and we have even more responsibility to address these conflicts” he said.
Ruddy, as part of a panel discussion following the July 16 performance of The International, further recalled seeing the televised images of the victims in Srebrenica.
“One of the things that struck me about that particular event, was that a lot of these old men and ladies and children – they reminded me of my own people in the west of Ireland, and I kind of based a little bit of where it comes from on my own little village,” he said.
“I actually thought about placing the event in an American city or an English city to bring it a bit closer to home. But actually, I thought, well maybe there’s no point. It is close to home.” ♦
The International is playing at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater on West 42nd street for another four-week production. It runs through August 2.
For those able to attend, on July 30 a final panel discussion will follow that nights performance where the audience will be invited to discuss the matters depicted in the play with the play’s creators, as well as with experts in the fields of diplomacy, humanitarian aid, genocide, the media, and legal defense.