Friday, January 6, 2012

PlayMakers’ ‘No Child ...’ looks at public education

Actor-playwright Nilaja Sun turned her experience as an artist in New York City public schools into a play about a multiethnic classroom, parents, school administrators and staff—including those working the front door metal detector.
PlayMakers Repertory Company, the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will present Sun in the one-woman show, “No Child …,” Jan. 11 through 15 as part of its PRC 2 second-stage series.
“‘No Child …’ is an exuberant, insightful portrait of life at fictional Malcolm X High School,” said PlayMakers producing artistic director Joseph Haj. “It’s a refreshingly un-cynical portrayal of some of the individuals shaping America’s next generation on the educational frontline. We’re thrilled to bring Nilaja Sun to our stage for a rousing theatrical look at a topic so meaningful to all of us in today’s society.”
Awards for “No Child …” include an Obie (newspaper The Village Voice’s honors for off-Broadway productions); Outer Critics Circle (writers who cover New York theater for papers outside New York) Awards for Best New American Play and Best Solo Performance; and the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Award for Best Solo Show.
The Boston Globe hailed the play as an “intelligent, clear-eyed and sometimes painfully funny take on the absurdly dysfunctional state of public education.” The Washington Post reported that “No Child …” is “in a class by itself!” And a New York Observer story read: “No child left behind? Not while Nilaja Sun is around.”
Cape Cod Theatre Project artistic director Hal Brooks, who staged the original production of “No Child …” off Broadway and subsequent touring versions, will direct the PlayMakers show. He’s known for powerful solo shows, including Pulitzer Prize finalist “Thom Pain (based on nothing)” by Will Eno.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. nightly and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre, inside the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Tickets are available as part of PlayMakers’ 2011-2012 season subscription packages or individually at $10 to $35. For more information, call the PlayMakers box office at (919) 962-PLAY (7529) or visit
This is the fifth season of the PRC2 series, in which each presentation combines a topical play with post-show discussions among artists and audience members, often with expert panelists. For “No Child …,” panelists will include:
• Graig Meyer, coordinator of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program;
• Joel Rosch of Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy;
• Lynden Harris, founder and director of Hidden Voices, a Hillsborough theater project;
• Raúl F. Granados Gámez, migrant youth director for the Levante Leadership Institute youth program of the Southeastern organization Student Action with Farm Workers;
• Brian Ammons, assistant professor of the practice in education at Duke;
• Dan Kimberg, founder and executive director of Student U, a program for students in Durham’s public schools; and
• representatives of the UNC School of Education, Durham Public Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.
The PRC2 season will conclude with the world premiere of “Penelope,” written and performed by Ellen McLaughlin, with live music composed by Sarah Kirkland Snider. "Penelope" will run from April 25 to 29. PlayMakers’ main-stage season will continue with a production titled “The Making of a King: ‘Henry IV’ & ‘Henry V,’” with the two Shakespeare plays performed in rotating repertory. That performance will run Jan. 28 to March 4; and the British farce “Noises Off” by Michael Frayn, spanning from April 6 to 24).
The Drama League of New York has named PlayMakers, based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, one of the best regional theaters in America. The Independent Weekly calls PlayMakers the best live theater company in the Triangle.

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