USA: education under Bush: New York theatre play

This video from the USA is called Katie Czerwinski Interviews Nilaja Sun.

By Sandy English:

Powerful truths, limited aims: No Child by the Epic Theater Center in New York

26 June 2006

No Child, written and performed by Nilaja Sun, directed by Hal Brooks, produced by the Epic Theater Center at the Samuel Beckett Theater, New York City

The actors and playwrights of the Epic Theater Center aim at social responsibility through art.

As the company’s mission statement indicates, it hopes to “demonstrate the central role of the arts in a healthy democracy.”

Its upcoming season will present a number of political pieces, including Judith Thompson’s My Pyramids, about the Iraq war and Ariel Sharon Stands at the Temple Mount and Dreams of Theodore Herzl by David Zellnik.

Through its successful “Journeys Series,” Epic Theater uses ancient Greek drama and Shakespeare’s works to teach public school students in New York City about theater.

This latter effort has now generated an Off-Broadway play based on the experiences of one of its teacher-actors, Nilaja Sun: No Child (a play on words on the Bush administration’s retrograde educational act, No Child Left Behind).

In this one-woman comedy set in a contemporary classroom in the Bronx, Sun plays the roles of several students, two teachers, a principal and a janitor.

The lead character is Sun herself as a drama teacher who has been hired with grant money to direct a class in performing a play at their school.

She has picked Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenberger [sic; Wertenbaker], about convicts from Britain arriving in Australia in 1788 who perform a version of George Farquhar’s 1706 The Recruiting Officer.

No Child begins with a conversation between Ms. Sun, the drama teacher, and her landlord.

She tells him that she has a new job and can pay her back rent.

The all-too-typical pleading that poor New York City artists often do once a month is carried off with a grace and humor that endears us to the play immediately.

Sun reminds us of the stark social inequality in New York when she travels to her new job from 59th Street in Manhattan, in the richest congressional district in the city, to Brooke Avenue in the Bronx, in the poorest, “in 18 minutes on the No. 6 train.”

Kafka on stage in London: here.

Esme Choonara applauds a bold theatrical version of Kafka’s Metamorphosis: here.

Ionesco’s The lesson: here. And The rhinoceros: here.

Expensive tickets for theaters in New York City: here.

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