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Professor behind Sugar gets fellowship


Robbie McCauley

Performing Arts Professor Robbie McCauley has been selected as a United States Artists Fellow.

Performing Arts Professor Robbie McCauley can finally share the exciting news that she has been selected for the United States Artists’ fellowship program.

“I got the news in September but I couldn’t tell anyone until December,” said McCauley, who staged an autobiographical play, Sugar, earlier this year that articulated her personal struggle with diabetes and the effect of the disease on African Americans.

McCauley just returned from a trip to Los Angeles to meet the other fellows.

“It was awarded to so many incredible people,” she said. “I’m in great company.”

Sugar debuted last January and McCauley plans to continue production — and use some of the $50,000 she received from the fellowship to enhance the play and bring it to more venues. McCauley won after being nominated by someone who wishes to remain anonymous.

“I think one of the reasons for the award is because I’ve helped open the door” for theater to tackle social issues, McCauley said.

Sugar, directed by PA Professor Maureen Shea, delves into McCauley’s diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes in her late teens while living with her family in Georgia, where there were disparities in treating the disease due to racial segregation.

She said Sugar illustrates the difficulty of staying healthy while living in a traditional Southern family in which food is used as a symbol of love and affection.

“You look at Paula Deen—we were right there,” she quipped. “There was always lots of celebratory food. We celebrated with homemade everything, with lots of carbs.”

The Boston Globe reviewedSugar when it debuted last January. It was made in collaboration with ArtsEmerson and the Performing Arts Department.

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