Entertainment

   

No Child

Posted by

<
>

“No Child Left Behind” was the name and catchcry of former US president George W. Bush’s controversial act designed to narrow the education gap for disadvantaged school-children. Speaking of such students mid-way through No Child, Nilaja Sun offers a direct riposte: “We’ve abandoned them. And I’m no different, I’m abandoning them too.”

It comes at a crisis point in Sun’s extraordinary play, a one-woman dramatisation of her experiences teaching drama in some of New York City’s toughest schools. It’s a confronting confession, typical of Sun’s unflinching examination of the failings of the public school system and her own struggles within it.

Sun plays herself in this story as a naive idealist. Newly employed at a rough Bronx high school to coach an unruly bunch of tenth-graders through a production of the play Our Country’s Good, she does not anticipate the extent of the apathy of her students, nor the hopeless defeatism of their teachers.

Here Sun’s energetic portrayal of various other characters in this story start to come to life. With uncanny precision, she mimics the no-nonsense principal, a jaded school security guard scanning teenagers for weapons, the beleaguered English teacher, Miss Tam.

But it’s the kids themselves that really stretch Sun’s incredible physical elasticity, as she morphs breathlessly from the class loudmouth to wheezing nerd to sassy drama queen. It’s a testament both to her skills as a performer and her sensitive goodwill as a writer, that Sun makes these motley characters instantly (and comically) recognisable yet feel individually drawn.

Our Country’s Good is a play about convicts shipped out to Australia on the First Fleet and, through their chaotic rehearsals, Sun realises how the students themselves are imprisoned by social expectations in their own time: poverty, violence, and powerlessness within a broken-down school system are traps in a seemingly self-fulfilling prophesy.

Sun’s play, however, is careful to show that a school is also a place full of life and optimism. Small triumphs and acts of kindness fortify her otherwise despairing social criticism. If you missed No Child at last year’s Melbourne Festival, now is the time to see this remarkable piece of theatre.

No Child is playing at Theatre Works, St Kilda. The season is now extended until May 26.
For more information and tickets visit theatreworks.org.au.


Art & Design

http://www.milkbarmag.com/2016/09/15/who-is-fitzy-fox/

Who Is Fitzy Fox?

Milk Bar Magazine speaks with Amelia Trompf, the author of the new children's book Who is Fitzy Fox?, set right here in Melbourne.

http://www.milkbarmag.com/2016/08/30/degas-a-new-vision/

Degas: A New Vision

The NGV has been filled with the talented Edgar Degas’ art containing 206 pieces of work.

http://www.milkbarmag.com/2016/08/24/melbourne-spring-fashion-week-2016/

Melbourne Spring Fashion Week 2016

Prepare to be glamoured by the exclusive events that Melbourne Spring Fashion Week has in store for us all in 2016.

Photo & Video

http://www.milkbarmag.com/2015/04/02/the-10th-whitelion-bail-out-charity-fundraiser/

The 10th Whitelion Bail Out Charity Fundraiser

Bail Out's plans to help out Melbourne's disadvantaged youth.

http://www.milkbarmag.com/2014/10/15/the-fox-darkroom/

The Fox Darkroom

Snap away with The Fox Darkroom, a mecca for photography aficionados to learn all about the traditional methods of black and white photography.

http://www.milkbarmag.com/2014/05/30/somewhere-else-video-sings-of-summer/

Somewhere Else video sings of summer

It almost sounds like the premise of a reality TV show: pile a bunch of artists in a bus for seven days, send them across Mexico and see what happens.