By Matthew Bramlett |Arts & Entertainment Editor|
The CSUSB Theatre Arts Department is set to ring in the spring season with their rendition of Nilaja Sun’s award-winning play “No Child.”
The play, opening on March 9, is a comedy that focuses on a teacher instilling a love of the arts on a group of low-income and underprivileged teenagers in New York City. It will be directed by Dr. Kathryn Ervin, who is also the chair of the department.
“It’s about how just the smallest amount of exposure in the arts can change people in a profound way,” said Josh Gren, the theatre department’s public relations specialist.
The play is the semi-autobiographical story of Sun, a former actress-turned-teacher who brought a love of theater to her students in the shadow of the infamous “No Child Left Behind” act. The students in the play use the values and ideals Sun instilled in them in their every day lives.
“I have a particular bias about education. The idea that we can, somehow, make all education the same, faced with the vastly diverse population, is of interest to me,” said Ervin in a press release. “Socially, we struggle with the idea that ‘putting the arts back [in schools]’ will solve everything, when we know it’s not that simple. Arts involve a particular kind of learning. There’s critical information [in the arts].”
“No Child” was originally designed as a one-woman show, with Sun playing all the characters. This time around, however, Ervin decided to cast multiple actors in an effort to create a sense of Sun being overwhelmed by the monumental task she has undertaken.
The main character of Sun will be played by Victoria Estrada. Other notable cast members include Ashley Storey as a wise janitor and Kevin Ezeh as Jerome, one of Sun’s students.
Storey’s character will be particularly notable, since she will be playing the part of a man that was originally played by a woman.
“Kathy is a really great director to work with,” said student Carly Royer. “She knows how to tease out the best emotions in everybody she works with. She’s a very non-linear thinker, but in a good way.”
Ervin has also employed choreographer Leslie Bryan to instill a kind of ‘hip-hop theater’ movement into the play that will engage the audience.
The production will also include ‘live tagging’, meaning that the characters will ‘tag’ parts of the theatre during the play.
“No Child” has been lauded by critics, with The Huffington Post calling it, “A tour-de-force exploration of the public school system.”
The production opens on March 9 and runs until March 18. Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., with one Thursday showing on March 15 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for seniors, military and non-CSUSB students and $6 for CSUSB students (with valid ID). For ticket information, you can call the Theatre Department box office at (909) 537-5884 or you can visit the department’s official website at theatre.csusb.edu