RCA presents “Farewell, Welcome…” in collaboration with Nilaja Sun

Nilaja Sun teaches a student from the Regional Center for the Arts.
Nilaja Sun teaches a student from the Regional Center for the Arts.

Regional Center for the Arts (RCA) Theatre students are set to debut an original performance, “Farewell, Welcome…” — the result of a semester-long collaboration with an award-winning writer and performer Nilaja Sun.

The show is written and performed by high school students from several area towns enrolled the RCA Theatre program.

“Farewell, Welcome…” culminates a program with Sun, who is a writer, performer, and educator . She is the creator of “No Child…,” an Obie Award-winning production based on her experiences as a theatre teacher. She has numerous acting credits on stage, television, and film, including Madam Secretary, 30 Rock, and The Bourne Legacy.

The C.E.S. Foundation provided grant funding to team Sun with the RCA Theatre teachers Jenny Nelson and Katie Sparer.

“Farewell, Welcome…” is a powerful series of personal stories that, over the semester, gradually shifted into character pieces that highlight the talents of the eight female students. The students, ranging from ninth to twelfth graders and representing six different Fairfield County school systems, deliver a mix of funny and heartbreaking stories, written and told from their own perspectives.

“I feel that we are lucky as art teachers to have the capacity to work with the students on a very soulful and human level,” says Sun. “The arts is really the only place where students learn to be human. So, we have this kind of great opportunity to tackle every bit of humanity within them.”

Sun has instructed students of all ages and abilities, from growing a theatre program in the lower East Side of Manhattan to working with prison inmates. Nelson and Sparer are also professional performers, as are all RCA instructors.

“The students have done a great job with all of their pieces, including those where they’ve taken on multiple characters, voices, and physical lives and embodied an entire scene within their piece,” Nelson said.

Sun said the students are developing unique voices, and instruction and classes like RCA’s are critical in molding artists to create new stories and break historical trends.

“We’ve got teenage people right here who are literally the next generation,” Sun said. “It really inspires me to know that in 20 or 30 years maybe we’re not having that conversation so much about the same old stories and maybe we’re seeing the next generation of movers and shakers.”

RCA is located at 23 Oakville Drive in Trumbull. Cooperative Educational Services (C.E.S.) runs RCA, an interdistrict arts magnet school.

“Farewell, Welcome…” will run at RCA’s Black Box Theatre on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors. For tickets, call (203) 365-8930.