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First Person

Actress Robbie McCauley on her sweet story

Also a playwright and Emerson College professor, McCauley will use her recent $50,000 United States Artists fellowship to further her autobiographical play, “Sugar.” 

Emerson theater professor and performer Robbie McCauley.

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Emerson theater professor and performer Robbie McCauley.

I like to reflect reality through performance, and, in fact, I do have to CHECK MY BLOOD SUGAR within the period of time I’m doing the play. There’s some stress involved in performing that I have to manage, so I thought, well, this is an opportunity to find the performative aspect of what I do. Some nights I would TAKE MY INSULIN SHOT [on stage] because it warranted it, and some nights I would say, well, that’s a good number, and I don’t have to do this right now. Or, I better eat something because it’s low. It’s AN IMPROVISATIONAL MOMENT. Many, many people know diabetics, but we’re talking about breaking the silence. Many people appreciate being let in on a process that even their relatives may not have shared with them.

I started this work many years ago as part of my long-term interest in TELLING THE BIGGER PERSONAL STORY that everyone has, that is connected to larger events around them. And so I finally got to my story about diabetes. And during that time, diabetes’s presence as an epidemic began to be reported.

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Sugar has to do with getting more people who have diabetes — and their relatives and other people who are interested in diabetes — talking about it. I bring up a story-circle process that ALLOWS PEOPLE TO TALK OPENLY with a few cues. Telling my story helped me, so long range I think it would be helpful to other people. That’s A KIND OF DRAMA WORK I’ve been doing for quite a while. The grant will help me organize that work more. — As told to Joel Brown

Interview has been edited and condensed.

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