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On Sugarland
Off-Broadway

On Sugarland

New York, NY
Obie Award-winning playwright Aleshea Harris' newest work.
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About On Sugarland

Sugarland is on precarious soil—three mobile homes line a southern cul-de-sac replete with years and years of decorative folk-art treasures and keepsakes. Young Sadie calls on generations of matriarchal ancestors to find the truth about her mother while the denizens of Sugarland rise each day to holler for the dead—conscripted soldiers lost to a greedy war—in a ritual reclamation of timeless grief.

This sweeping new work from Obie Award-winning playwright Aleshea Harris (Is God Is, What to Send Up When It Goes Down) is at once a spectacular pageant and spirited meditation on remarkable people transcending difficult circumstances. On Sugarland brings joyous life to communal healing with a glorious ensemble of 14 performers in a production directed by Obie Award winner, NYTW Usual Suspect & former 2050 Fellow Whitney White (What to Send Up When It Goes Down) and choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly (Hurricane Diane, The House That Will Not Stand)

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Tell Me More

Aleshea Harris's new play, On Sugarland, explores the connections and divides between generations in a small community with a storied history. Get On Sugarland tickets on TodayTix.

On Sugarland is a play, ritual, and meditation on grief and history all in one. The story centers around Sadie, a precocious 12-year-old girl with a self-proclaimed ability to talk to the dead. She is raised by her aunt in the titular Sugarland, a cul-de-sac community of trailer homes stuffed with historical knickknacks and folk-art treasures from multiple generations. The aunt, Odella, is often drunk and underestimates Sadie's intelligence, leading Sadie to want to learn more about her mother, who she knows little about.

Sadie uses her abilities to call on her deceased matriarchal ancestors that went before her. Meanwhile, the other residents of Sugarland call upon their dead every day and share their grief. On Sugarland is at once a young girl's quest to learn about, and grieve for, the generations before her, as well as a whole people's communal sharing of grief that they experience and reclaim together. Whether physical or spiritual, On Sugarland reinforces the connections among community members.

Harris is the playwright of the Relentless Award-winning play Is God Is, which played off-Broadway in 2018. She also wrote the play/pageant/ritual What To Send Up When It Goes Down, which played at The Public Theater in 2020 and Playwrights Horizons in 2021. Obie Award-winning director Whitney White, who helmed that show, collaborates with Harris once again to direct the world premiere of On Sugarland off-Broadway.

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What to Watch For

  • Aleshea Harris is known for her use of typography in written scripts to convey emotion or delivery. Whispered lines are written in small type, for example, and drawn-out words will have spaces between the letters. You won't see this on stage, of course, but you can visualize how the words look when you hear them aloud!
  • Since On Sugarland is about bridging generations, it's only fitting that Harris herself includes historical material in her contemporary play! Sadie's opening monologue includes a line about an energized "frequency" that runs through her body and connects her to her ancestors and other girls like her. That line is inspired by Sojourner Truth's 1851 "Ain't I A Woman" speech.
  • Harris took inspiration from contemporary pop culture while writing On Sugarland, too. Harris crafted personality of a middle-aged character named Evelyn, for example, based on the singer Eartha Kitt, the drag performer Lady Chablis, Aunt Viv from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and her own Auntie Jem.
  • Like On Sugarland, Harris's play What To Send Up When It Goes Down draws a lot on ritual and characters perform many ritualistic actions. Both these plays focus on different practices, healing, and community specfically among Black people. In On Sugarland, "Every character in this play has an individual self-restoration ritual," as Harris wrote in a published, annotated excerpt of the play, but the community also performs rituals with and for others, and finds healing in each other.
Start date

February 7th, 2022

End date

March 20th, 2022

Genre

Off-Broadway

Venue

New York Theatre Workshop

Tickets

Tickets are not currently available. Set an alert and we'll tell you when more tickets go on sale.

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