Thursday, November 23, 2006

No Child - The Play

Nilaja Sun has received kudos for her one-woman performance in No Child, called “Compelling Theatre” in one review. But no matter how high your expectations upon entering the theater, you will emerge saying they weren’t high enough.

A review by theatergoer ancess1 on the NY Times theater page says, “She fills the stage with a whole school. The determined principal, the struggling and inept new teacher, the wise old janitor, the energetic and idealistic teaching artist, and especially the 5 or 6 vibrant, shy, defiant, unruly, belligerent, troubled, and ultimately triumphant students all come vividly alive in Ms. Sun's astonishing transformations.”

The audience, filled mostly with teachers, howled with delight throughout the performance. There were a few tears too.

I attended the performance of No Child at the Barrow Street Theater on Friday, Nov. 17 with thirty-two current and former NYC school teachers. Our group came together through the auspices of the Independent Community of Educators (ICE), a reform group in the UFT. It was a pleasure to revisit with some of the teachers and parents from PS 147, the school I had taught at for 27 years. The group included Mary (Acevedo) Torres, a parent from the school who had survived being in my 5th and 6th grade classes, graduating from the school in 1979. I also had the pleasure of teaching Mary’s three brothers. Jasmin, her 17-year-old daughter, a senior at Health Professionals HS joined Mary at the play.

Jasmin, Mary Hoffman, Mary Torres, Nilaja Sun

When you’re out of teaching for a while it is easy to forget the sense of what it was all about. My memory is fogged and I only seem to remember the bad things I did as a teacher. Spending some time reminiscing with Mary, who I never completely touch with, brought back some of the good things. Despite my protestations, she maintains I was a good teacher. BloomKlein would have me gone in 10 minutes but I’d like to think Mary knows best.

Do not walk. Do not run. Fly - as fast as you can and go see No Child before it flies off on tour.

You feel pretty old when your former student from 27 years ago shows up with her 17 year old daughter.

Check out the NY Times "A Night Out With Nilaja Sun."


  1. That would make me feel old indeed. I suggest next time have her send the daughter and tell her to pretend to be mom.

  2. No chid a must see play.If my seventeen year old daughter said she must tell her friends,that speaks for itself.


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