Thursday, 8 June 2017

PIKE ST Dramaturgy: Nilaja Sun @ Edfringe 2017

Barrow Street Productions presents:
(Venue 26)
3pm (not Tuesdays)
4 – 27 August
Run time 75 mins

0131 560 1580

Award-winning Nilaja Sun (No Child...) breathes life into a vibrant mix of Lower East Side residents in her latest solo show. At the heart of Pike St. is Evelyn. She’s balancing welcoming her Navy SEAL brother home, keeping her eccentric father out of trouble and providing electricity for her daughter on life-support. All this before a hurricane hits NYC. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?
After Hurricane Sandy tore through much of the Northeast of America, some of the most badly damaged towns and neighborhoods were completely forgotten left with no running water and electricity. My hometown of The Lower East Side was one of those neighborhoods. 

I wanted to write a piece so that if Mother Nature ever overwhelmed your town, neighborhood or city, you’d be inspired to think about your most vulnerable neighbors, especially those who are elderly, disabled, and dependent of life support.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Although we are seeing an influx of new, fun and important ways to discuss ideas in public, I do feel that the theatre is one of the only ways nowadays where folks are putting their cell phones in their purses and pockets and experiencing a real human being sweating, spitting, laughing, crying and loving right in front of them in a shared space. 

I think that reminds folks that we are more than just our apps.

How did you become interested in making performance?
While in college, I realized that I had many stories to tell, particularly centered around the experiences of people of color in many of the forgotten neighborhoods of New York City. 

I made it my mission to tell these stories and shine a spotlight on the beautiful humans who we don't get a chance to see much of on stage.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
Because I am an actor, I come from a very feeling based place in my work when I write. Whatever makes me laugh out loud, stays in the show. Whatever makes me sob, stays in. 

Whatever makes me angry or giving me goose bumps is definitely in. Anything that makes me feel nothing, goes bye bye.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
I brought my last solo piece No Child… to Edinburgh 7 years ago and although they share the genre of solo piece, they are much different shows but the fire and the urgency to tell the story still remains strong.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
I hope that audiences will think about their own hometowns and the people who lived and still live there and realize that everyone has a little “PIKE ST.” in them and that in essence makes them who they are.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
When you enter the theatre, you’ll get a chance to meet a very special human being who is the crux of the play. I pray that you’ll feel comfortable looking at her, absorbing her in all of her glory and breathing with her because in the end, the breath is all we have.

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