In April 2023, RPPL Artist Brian Egland premiered his new play “Where the Suga Still Sweet” as part of the We Will Dream New Works Festival at the André Calloux Center for Performing Arts and Cultural Justice on historic Bayou Road in New Orleans. The show runs through May 21, 2023.
Egland was a RPPL artist in 2022 and developed this new work here, while staying at the White Oak Artists’ Residence. During his time in residence, Brian tapped into his personal experience from growing up in the middle of sugar cane fields in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, paired with his experience in the natural surroundings of the White Oak residence house in Utica, Mississippi, to create a beautiful homage to rural Black southern living.
“All the things from my life must be Southern. My life was going to church every Sunday. I grew up around a lot of sugarcane. Going to the library was part of my life. My mom used to hang clothes on the clothesline. Everything that was part of my life — I found a way to put in there.”
“Where the Suga Still Sweet” centers on Runna, a young man who is often lost in his own thoughts and reliving the past. At a young age, he lost his close friend Sondelo. Runna’s great aunt, Nanny Mae, has raised him, and she still brings him to church, where the preacher, Vern-Mayor, is intent on saving Runna, who has not yet decided to be baptized into the church. Vern-Mayor is an insistent and thundering presence, and he’s driven by his own quest for redemption. This work tackles religion, redemption, and homophobia in a driven and engaging call and response with the audience.