On Sugarland

A SAMUEL FRENCH, INC. TITLE

On Sugarland

Full-Length Play, Drama  /  4w, 2m, 8any gender (adult)

Loosely adaptated from the ancient Greek tragedies Philoctetes and Antigone, this sweeping new work from Obie Award-winning playwright Aleshea Harris is at once a spectacular pageant and a spirited meditation on remarkable people transcending difficult circumstances.

Image: 2022 New York Theatre Workshop Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    4w, 2m, 8any gender (adult)
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Adaptations (Literature)
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Adult
Accolades
Accolades
  • Finalist: 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Drama

Details

Summary

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. Twelve-year-old 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 at once a spectacular pageant and a spirited meditation on remarkable people transcending difficult circumstances.

History
On Sugarland premiered off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop on 5 February 2022.
Cast Attributes

All characters are African American.

SADIE – 14 years old. Can wake the dead.
ODELLA – Late 30s. Sadie’s aunt. In mourning.
ADDIS – 17 years old. Wants to be a warrior.
SAUL – Late 30s. Father of Addis. Mourning his rotting foot. Walks with a pronounced limp.
TISHA – Late 60s. Tends the earth and the dead.
EVELYN – Late 60s. Tends herself.

THE ROWDY – A chorus of neighborhood youths, male/female/nonbinary, aged 13-18.

All characters are African American.

  • Setting Three mobile homes in a cul-de-sac in a small city in the South. A time of war.
  • Features Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Period Costumes
  • Duration More than 120 minutes (2 hours)

Media

“An epic narrative... blistering... the future of theatre that Americans have been clamoring for, for decades.” – Theatrely

“[Harris'] work often lifts the everyday trauma of being alive, especially as a Black person, to the plane of poetry through heightened language, songs, rituals and symbols... she is one of the best navigators of shifts in language and registers, even within a single scene. So we get tasty figurative gumdrops that subtly illuminate the inner thoughts of the characters, like the glamorous Evelyn’s description of the setting sun, which, she says, looks ‘like a starlet whose solo is over’... The play’s most intoxicating moments are when all of those bodies are onstage hollering, each moving in such carefully curated directions in such diligently structured postures that they become like a liberated tableau.” – The New York Times

★★★★ “Dreamlike... Harris imagines a dramatic plane at once rooted in dirt and suspended in time and space, where it's possible to take a revealing, unfettered look at truths unmoored from their social contexts. That the provenance and logic of the war go unnamed is to the point — death will always come, and for Black people most urgently. Exhuming that foundational trauma, holding it up for audiences to feel, understand, and mourn, takes a daring and determined imagination that goes beyond words. It takes a hollering.” – New York Theatre Guide

“An epic narrative... In a blistering critique of how the military industrial complex preys upon Black communities with false promises of American security and benefits, Harris uses West African storytelling traditions to lay bare that the gods who demand you holler, but fail to honor you back, are hardly worthy of worship... what Harris and White created is the future of theatre that Americans have been clamoring for, for decades.” – Theatrely

“You could watch all of On Sugarland and enjoy it and get it and never worry about Harris’s connections to Sophocles. Still, they’re there, subterranean allusions running far beneath the cul-de-sac... Harris is clearly interested in plowing deep, and what she delves for, she finds.” – Vulture

Videos

  • On Sugarland Trailer – New York Theatre Workshop youtube thumbnail

    On Sugarland Trailer – New York Theatre Workshop

  • On Sugarland Teaser – New York Theatre Workshop youtube thumbnail

    On Sugarland Teaser – New York Theatre Workshop

  • The Making of On Sugarland – New York Theatre Workshop youtube thumbnail

    The Making of On Sugarland – New York Theatre Workshop

  • KiKi Layne discusses On Sugarland youtube thumbnail

    KiKi Layne discusses On Sugarland

Photos

  • On Sugarland

    Image: 2022 New York Theatre Workshop Production (Joan Marcus)

  • On Sugarland

    Image: 2022 New York Theatre Workshop Production (Joan Marcus)

Licensing & Materials

  • Minimum Fee: £55 per performance plus VAT when applicable.

Scripts

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Authors

Aleshea Harris

Aleshea Harris’s play Is God Is (directed by Taibi Magar at Soho Rep and Ola Ince at the Royal Court) won the 2016 Relentless Award, an Obie Award for playwriting in 2017, the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award in 2019 and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. What ...

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