An actor is meeting her students in an inner-city high school at the start of a six-week theater arts program, and all is not going smoothly. The first revolt comes when the kids learn that they have to use scripts: "You'll be reading, but you're also gonna be creating a community," a supervisor says.
"Ay yo! Last time I created a community the cops came," one of the tougher boys responds.
Actor/playwright Nilaja Sun's one-person show No Child..., which runs through Sunday as part of Playmakers Rep's PRC2 series, was based on her eight years of experience as a teaching artist in New York City public schools. In it, Sun mimics a classroom of multiethnic students, teachers and parents and an old custodian as the date of the children's show nears. Sooner or later, all wonder at the outcome for these kids, on stage and off.
The play's initial 11-month run off-Broadway netted an Obie for best performance, the Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding solo show, and two Outer Critics Circle Awards for playwriting and solo performance in 2007. After a national and international tour, No Child... had a two-month off-Broadway revival last summer. A Washington Post review notes that Sun's account "brings these characters to life with a teacher's affection," while the New York Observer reports that Sun "raises the tattered banner of faith in the redemptive power of theater itself, even in the wasteland."
Performances are 7:30 nightly Jan. 11–15, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Jan. 15. —Byron Woods