Funny and sharply written solo show “No Child Left Behind,” written and performed by Makha Mthembu, focuses on a South African girls' school teacher whose students are being taught during Apartheid in South Africa during the time of Nelson Mandela's recent release, new times of desegregation, and just prior to voting on the referendum in 1992.
The class opens with their national anthem, as any class in any country might do, which sets the tone for a complacent, but enthusiastic, political reverence by their instructor that is both chilling and familiar. Within her struggle to explain the coming referendum to her students, based on a “new” student's open question, is exhibited a series of veiled—and not so veiled—elements of long term, deep-seated racism, and general short-mindedness.
The rest is more nuanced. And depending on your perspective, your take on our teacher for the day's background and upbringing here may vary. This is part of Mthembu's brilliance. This short play, which is only 30 minutes, may afterward bring about many questions to ask yourself about the nature, construction, and dissemination of our own contemporary historical education, past and present, including its influence, its inconsistency, or its incompleteness...or all of the above. Where you were born in this country, what your race might be, and how old you are will definitely factor into your own assessment. This show has been extended to July 12, 2019, at 8 p.m. at Thymele Arts and is free. (NO EXTERNAL REVIEW)