Relative Theatrics is kicking off its fifth season this weekend with a one-woman show that takes a comedic yet empathetic look at public education.
“No Child…” by Nilaja Sun is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday and Sept. 7-9 at the Gryphon Theatre, 710 Garfield St. Tickets are $12 in advance or $16 at the door for adults and $10 in advance or $14 at the door for students and seniors. The play contains adult themes and language.
Directed by Anne Mason, the play stars Ure Egbuho, a professional actor from New York, in each of its 16 different roles.
“No Child…” follows a teaching artist who receives a grant to visit Malcolm X High School in the Bronx to direct a play in a 10th-grade classroom.
Sun based the work on her own work as a visiting artist.
“This play is a compilation of all her experiences, put into a 65-minute powerful, packed production,” Mason said.
Mason, who has known Egbuho for many years, said she decided to use a professional in the production because of the technical challenge of playing 16 different characters. As well, she said, Egbuho brings her own understanding of big city life, having lived in Los Angeles and New York.
During the rehearsal process, they focused on bringing out the physical and mental characteristics of each character.
“We did a lot of character development exercises, really getting into the bodies and voices and minds of each characters and finding ways to really differentiate them from one another,” Mason said.
Mason said solo performances are powerful because of the unifying effect of watching one actor inhabit characters of diverse ages and backgrounds.
“You see one person empathize so deeply with such a broad spectrum of people that it really reinforces that as human beings on this planet, we all can relate to one another,” she said.
She said Sun has a knack for finding the best in her characters and situations. The result is empathy for people navigating challenging circumstances.
“It has this funny element to it that really leaves the audience with hope rather than despair,” Mason said.
Mason is calling the fifth season of Relative Theatrics “Generations to Come,” as each play to be produced takes a look at the future.
The season is scheduled to continue with “26 Miles” on Nov. 2-4 and Nov. 9-11; “The Nether” on Feb. 1-3 and Nov. 8-10; and “The Big Heartless” on April 5-7 and April 12-14. All plays this season were written by women.
Relative Theatrics is also planning to show “The Santaland Diaries” on Dec. 6-9.
Relative Theatrics is a local theater company that aims to produce thought-provoking plays that focus on the unifying elements of humanity. All performances are followed by a chat with the production crew. Audiences are seated on the stage, with seating limited to 50 each night.