The Isle of Sugar is a one-of-a-kind roleplaying game/theatre experience that explores the history and human cost of the Cuban Revolution. Show creator Alejandro Tey interviewed dozens of Cuban refugees (many of whom emigrated as unaccompanied children), former political prisoners, and exiles, including his own grandparents. In the first months of 2020, Red Theater hosted Alejandro Tey and his creative team for weekly workshop presentations at Chicago’s The Martin. We were finishing the first phase of the 2020 workshop and preparing to share the Isle of Sugar workshop with a larger audience when the current public health crisis forced us to end production.
Alejandro Tey’s masterfully crafted experience was already speaking to us about the chaos of change in ways that feel more prescient by the day. Using the fictionalized stories drawn from his interviewees, Tey and company immersed us in the tumultuous lives of those who had experienced the Cuban Revolution. The piece spoke to our current moment, forcing a confrontation with discomfiting questions. What would I have done then? What would my family have done?
What do I do now?
In Isle of Sugar, the experience of rolling dice and building a character together around a table is central to the experience, though I know the work-shopping will continue in the future and the piece will be experienced by audiences again. I’m now, together with everyone else, left alone to grieve for what was next for this workshop and what we hoped to learn along with this audience. For a few nights, Isle of Sugar brought compatriots together to breathe the same air and discuss how to live in difficult times. I hope that, months away, we still remember how.
The Isle of Sugar by Alejandro Tey
Featured Players: Deanalís Resto, Gregory Hill, Clair Fuller
Featured Game Masters: Abby Pajakowski, Sean Foer, Alyssa Vera Ramos
Production Team: Alejandro Tey (Writer/Director), Sara Sawicki (Consulting Director), Madeleine Switzer (Stage Manager), Wyatt Kent (Producer), Clare Brennan (Producer), Melissa ’13andit’ Schlesinger (Art Director)