In the middle of a world wide pandemic, when we are all so viscerally disconnected, what more perfect place than one’s own home and what better time than now, to dramatize in beautifully twisted and brilliant ways, a health crises, proportionally far larger and more insidious than Covid.
Diana Wyenn is a diabetic. Stage I. She was completely unaware of this until her early twenties. While she was in London attending RADA, she collapsed, was rushed to hospital and emerged days later with the label “diabetic” and the fear that is attached to it.
That was twenty or so years ago and over time she has created and curated her own particular world of art and theatre and movement and health education and furious and brilliant writing. Out of this world comes her latest work, “Blood/Sugar.” Once a play, now a multi media, multi camera, multi dimensional performance piece set in her house and supported by the wickedly talented video magic of Jason H. Thompson.
This is a story Diana simply had to tell and she does so with an apocalyptic urgency. A fierce and sublime honesty and her own, very unique and compelling voice.
Blood/Sugar is part intimate plea, part Laurie Anderson-esque homage, part psychedelic romp…with a barrage of exquisitely formed, insightful and excruciating heartfelt anecdotes. Ms Wyenn takes us firmly by the hand as she propels us through her life of self discovery, painful subway memories and triumphant Shakespearean diatribes.
She has created an explosion of light and color and sound all mimicking her reality. Her sugar rush, her tightrope walk of daily awareness, her hilarious and sometimes dangerous daily existence and her absolute fearless need to fix it.
In this performance we are shown her world, her mind, her life in all its glory. She holds nothing back as she gyrate and writhes and crawls her way around her home. Tricking us with her skills as an actress into moments of safety, then flipping us mercilessly on our heads as she try to instill her vision, her perspective into our cerebral cortex.
It’s quite something. Trippy, fluid, poignant and brave. Diana has that often elusive knack of fully connecting a thought to a moment so completely that we not only believe her, we are her. She reaches out to not only the audience, but also fellow diabetics knowing how alone they feel, how isolated and unable to share their experience and their fears.
I’ve seen a lot of plays online in the last six months, so many tries in so many ways. Most are okay, some are wonderful. But “Blood/Sugar” is something totally different, totally new. A fascinating, vastly informative and moving window to a world that if we were paying any attention at all, we would know is literally all around us. One out of every ten adults are living with diabetes in the US and this could soon grow to one in three. This is not something we should all be willing to live with, but without people like Diana shouting about it from the roof tops, one in three is where we are headed.
Using the power of performance to educate is not a new thing. But what Diana does with this incredible blend of performance art, physical poetry, choreography and video manipulation is something I have not seen before. Its effect is profound and the vivid images, words and memories it instills in its audience real and lasting.
In our present Zoom reality we are often peering round other peoples homes, searching for clues, wondering who they really are. With “Blood/Sugar” Diana has gone far further than straightening her picture frames and kicking her shoes under the couch. She has thrown herself and her home open to the world, exposing everything, every fear, every tic, every nuance of herself. Precarious, vulnerable and totally unafraid. Like the very best of artists, she gives us everything and it is utterly wonderful.
I hope you get the chance to see “Blood/Sugar,” I know I would love to again. It’s tough and beautiful and absolutely bloody brilliant!! Bravo!!
You can see the trailer below and go to https://www.dianawyenn.com for information on the show, Diana and upcoming performances
Written and Performed by Diana Wyenn
Visit https://events.caltech.edu for more incredible events.
Created, directed, and performed by Diana Wyenn
Written by Diana Wyenn and Guy Zimmerman
Developed in collaboration with Lauren Campedelli, John Zalewski, Jason H. Thompson, Joey Guthman, Rebecca Carr, Aaron Saldaña, and Laban Pheidias
Camera and performance by Laban Pheidias
Voice-over by Lauren Campedelli
Video design by Jason H. Thompson
Sound design by John Zalewski
Live broadcast by PXT Studio
Produced by Plain Wood Productions
All video and special effects for the production are deployed live by video designer Jason H. Thompson from PXT Studios less than 5 miles away.
Blood/Sugar is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Arts and Disability Center at UCLA, with additional developmental support provided by the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs and LADAD Space.
“Blood/Sugar has also been presented by REDCAT, Highways Performance Space, and New York University. It has won Outstanding Performance of a Solo Performance and Outstanding Playwright of a Solo Performance at the 2018 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, as well as The Planet Activist Award for its informative talkbacks with local diabetes educators after every performance. Diana was a semi-finalist for Center Theatre Group’s 2020 Sherwood Award and her work has been supported by the California Arts Council, National Arts and Disability Center, LADAD Space, and the Woman’s Building, as well as featured in American Theatre Magazine, Howlround, the Daily Beast, LA Times, Fast Company, and on NPR.
Diana has collaborated on projects with The Walt Disney Company, Lincoln Center, the LA Philharmonic, Center Theater Group, LACMA, REDCAT, SummerStage, American Jewish University, Grand Performances, CAP UCLA, Ford Theatres, Chalk Repertory Theatre, and Ghost Road Ensemble, among others.
Diana is also the co-founder of Plain Wood Productions with her husband LABAN, a former pro-skateboarder turned music video director. Together, they direct and produce music videos, short films and live performances. She is also a member of Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps Climate Reality Leader, and serves as Artistic Director of TIOH Arts & Culture at Temple Israel of Hollywood, where she curates contemporary performance reflecting progressive Jewish values.