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McCauley’s play to premiere at Emerson

Performing Arts Professor and renowned theater artist Robbie McCauley will premiere her one-woman show Sugar at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box in the Paramount Center on Friday, January 20. McCauley wrote and performs the play, which runs through January 29. The show is directed by Performing Arts Professor Maureen Shea.

Set against the backdrop of McCauley’s own life as an internationally acclaimed performance artist, Sugar delves into the pains and triumphs of living with “a little bit of sugar”: diabetes, a disease that affects many Americans, and many more African Americans. It examines diabetes and the African American experience, from slavery to colonialism to American mythologies about diabetes. McCauley used material not only from her own experience, but also from interviews with other diabetics, their families and friends, and health care providers.

Robbie McCauley premiere's her play Sugar on January 20.

Sugar is “as much about race as it is about diabetes, because Robbie also explores the history of sugar cane, and the sugar plantations, and the idea of being slaves to sugar,” Shea told the Boston Globe. McCauley concurred: “For me it’s as much about the African American experience as it is about the diabetic experience.’’

McCauley has been an active presence in American avant-garde theater for more than three decades. Her early work in New York included performances in plays by Lanford Wilson at Cafe Cino and by Adrienne Kennedy at the New York Shakespeare Festival. On Broadway, she appeared in the original cast of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. In the 1990s, she received both an Obie Award (Best Play) and a New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award for Sally’s Rape, which she wrote, directed, and performed in many locations across the country and abroad. Among the other important works she has written and directed are a number of community-based theater productions exploring issues of race and class in this country and in the Czech Republic.

Sugar is produced by ArtsEmerson in collaboration with the Performing Arts Department and was created in collaboration with Artists In Context. A talkback with McCauley will follow each performance. Pianist Chauncey Moore wrote music to accompany the piece and will play live at the performances.

Tickets are $25–$49 regular admission, $15 for student ArtsEmerson members, and $10 rush. Tickets are on sale now at or by phone at 617-824-8400.

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