"No Child..." which just finished its run at Berkeley Rep, the last stop on its national tour, was everything everyone has been saying it is. The show has been getting lots of attention for awhile (it's been on for 2 years now) and sometimes hype can lead to great expectations and disappointment from the crowd. However, Nilaja Sun creates enough of an authentic energy in the room (and the Berkeley rep theatre is nice and intimate) for the hype to be legitimate.
The main wonderful point about this show is the fact of activism as entertainment. No Child... is insight into the No Child Left Behind Act that is a U.S. federal law that George W. Bush instituted in 2001.
Watching Sun I could tell the amount of teachers in the room because of the many inside teacher jokes I wasn't a part of. This meant that the audience was also really passionate- the NCLB act effects their lives every day, and there's a lot of emotion there. Seeing Sun enact a theater teacher struggling to make an impact on kids and also struggling to get support for doing it, hit home for the audience. At one scene when Sun enacts the teacher calling a student to see why he has been absent and finds out from his grandmother that his brother was shot dead in an incident of gang violence, I noticed hands go up to faces all over the crowd as viewers wiped their tears.
I'm proof that this show inspires in an activist way because leaving I researched more about the NCLB act. Barack Obama has plans to reform the act.