Nilaja Sun

Nilaja Sun, Playwright

Photo by Xanthe Elbrick

Representative Plays:

Pike Street (2017)
No Child... (2006)
Black and Blue (2001) 


Nilaja Sun is a teaching artist, writer and performer from New York City's Lower East Side. Sun describes herself as a product of many cultural influences: her mother is Puerto Rican, her biological father is African American, her mother re-married to an Italian man, and her childhood neighborhood contained all of these cultures and more. Sun studied pre-medicine at Franklin & Marshall College and in her senior year, she spent a semester in New York City studying solo performance at La MaMa. After college, Sun waited tables in NYC while pursuing a career in acting. She transitioned out of waitressing when she discovered the joys and rewards of teaching artistry. While working as a teaching artist with Epic Theatre Ensemble, Epic's artistic director Melissa Friedman suggested Sun develop a piece inspired by their students. Supported by a NYSCA grant, Sun created No Child..., which eventually received a full run at the Barrow Street Theatre in NYC, toured all over the country and around the world, and garnered 21 awards. Sun did not produce her next solo piece, Pike Street, for another 8 years. She identifies "invisible New Yorkers" and "service to one another" as common themes across her work. A physical performer at heart, Sun does not view herself as the playwright or "docu-theatre" artist which many perceive her to be. Rather, she says she creates her works based on people and feelings and focuses on living moment to moment in each of her characters.

Source: NYU Contemporary Playwrights of Color


Puerto Rican