Robbie McCauley pours some ‘Sugar’ on you

After every show, McCauley, pictured here, will lead a “talk-back” session, in which members of the audience can ask questions about diabetes, or share their own experiences with it.

Unless you have it, you probably don’t spend much time talking about diabetes. The disease isn’t commonly discussed, in large part because its seriousness isn’t acknowledged, says Robbie McCauley.  

In her one-woman show, “Sugar,” the writer, performer and Emerson professor changes that pattern as she recounts her lifelong struggle with it.

“After seeing this show, I’d like people to recognize how important this pervasive and dangerous condition is, and to hopefully be able recognize its symptoms in themselves, their family members and others,” says McCauley, who has Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 27 percent of the 25.8 million Americans with diabetes haven’t been diagnosed. Afri-can-Americans are disproportionately affected by it. 

McCauley studied the history of sugar from slavery to colonialism while writing the play, and interviewed other diabetics. She wants to raise awareness by sharing her story, but at the same time provide an engaging theatrical experience.

“Through theater, hardship can be beautiful,” she says, insisting that the play isn’t a downer. “Despite everything, my life has been joyful.”

There’s a balance of comedy and tragedy in her story, she says: “Love stories are also about pain. Adventure stories are also about absurdity. … Most people’s lives have range to them, and that’s why I do theater. “



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