Obie Winner Nilaja Sun is currently filling an entire stage with her humor, wit, and story of resilience in her one-woman show, Pike St., on stage at the Abrons Arts Center. This story strikes close to home—Sun’s home, that is. This realness, this truth, this diverse portrait of the lives of those stricken by tragedy and natural disaster, has been extended and will play through December 19th.
Sun started writing Pike St. in 2013, reflecting on the effects that Hurricane Sandy had on the inhabitants of New York City. Told from the point of view of a Puerto Rican family in residence in Lower East Side (L.E.S.) Manhattan, Pike St. brings to life the story of Evelyn, whose teenage daughter Candace is paralyzed and not able to breathe on her own, and the preparations the family must make in the face of a looming storm.
This project is a bit of a homecoming. Sun was born and raised in L.E.S. and took her first art classes at Abrons Art Center. She has sought to tell a story that embodies the unique diversity of the landscape.
The artistry is what has me most intrigued by this story. Telling a story from one point of view is one thing, but seamlessly transforming from a matriarch who will protect her daughter by any means necessary, to the daughter who is bound by the dependance of a breathing machine and not being able to walk, to a woman who has survived the Holocaust, to a brother who has fought in Afghanistan, speaks to a special dexterity that you don’t see everyday.
The nature of all of these characters combined seems heavy. But nightly, like Evelyn, Sun leaves her heart on the stage in an effort to plant seeds of healing and redemption, three years after Hurricane Sandy.
Sun is a playwright and performer. It is in her Off-Broadway play, No Child, where she played an entire classroom of children and the teacher, that garnered her an Obie award, as well as a Lucille Lortel Award and two Outer Critics Circle Awards. Her TV and film credits include “30 Rock,” “Law & Order: SVU,” and “Louie.”
Pike St. held previews starting November 10 and opened November 15. The direction is helmed by Ron Russell and the show is presented by Epic Theatre Ensemble. Visit Abrons Arts Center for tickets.