10 May 2013

Re-visit: No Child...

No Child...
Theatre Works
7 May 2013
Theatre Works
to 26 May
theatreworks.org.au


No Child... sold out at last year's Melbourne International Arts Festival. Melbourne's arts community loved this show so much that the lovely people at Theatre Works have brought the inspirational and very lovely Nilaja Sun back to Melbourne and have already had to extend the season. Don't miss out this time!

The good news is that there are tickets available for later in the season, but you probably won't be able to squeeze in this weekend.

I saw it for the second time and enjoyed it even more than the first time (review). Being in the Theatre Works space is more intimate than the Fairfax and makes it feel like Nilaja is performing just for us, rather than doing a piece of capital T theatre.

No Child... is Nilaja's reaction to working as a teaching artist in New York's poorest schools. Her fictional Malcolm X High School in the Bronx is every school in the US where kids have to go through metal detectors to get to classes and aren't expected to make it to graduation. Her story includes teenagers for whom pregnancy and gang killings are a normal part of life. This is obscene. The richest country in our world can't look after its kids and educate them safely. And we certainly can't sit back and be content as our public school teachers are paid a pittance, schools are forever facing cuts and pressure is put on families to pay for their childrens' education.  This sucks. And then children are blamed if they slip through the system. We are failing as a society when any child misses out on a basic, safe and exciting education.

But this isn't a story about how an education system fails, it's about how to triumph within a system and how to teach when your class doesn't want to be there. Made with love for every student, teacher and their families, it's about people who care and people who know that all children need to feel valued.

Nilaja plays every role, including the janitor who's been at the school since the 60s, a new teacher who gave up a financial job to teach, the teenagers in the class and herself. Directed by Hal Brooks, she's been performing it since 2006 and every season has been greeted with critical gushing and audiences who want to come back for more.

It's an astonishing performance that leaves you unable to walk away uninspired, whether you're a teacher, a student, a performer, a writer, a theatre maker or anyone who has children and teenagers in your life.

It's selling our because it's THAT good. Book now before everyone books to see it again.


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