Sugar In Our Wounds

Lynne Meadow (Artistic Director) and Barry Grove (Executive Producer) are pleased to announce full casting for Manhattan Theatre Club’s world premiere of Sugar in Our Wounds, a new play by Donja R. Love, directed by Saheem Ali (Twelfth Night for the Public Theater’s Mobile Unit).

The production, which begins rehearsals tomorrow, will star Stephanie Berry (Drowning Crow, The Hummingbird's Tour) as Aunt Mama, Sheldon Best (Romeo and Juliet) as James, Fern Cozine (Off-Broadway debut) as Isabel, Tiffany Rachelle Stewart (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time) as Mattie, and Chinaza Uche (Sojourners/Her Portmanteau, Nigerian Prince) as Henry.

Sugar in Our Wounds will begin previews Tuesday, June 5, 2018 ahead of a Tuesday, June 19, 2018 opening night at The Studio at Stage II – Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Series at New York City Center – Stage II (131 West 55th Street).

On a plantation during the Civil War, a mystical tree stretches toward heaven. It protects James, a young slave, while he reads newspapers about the imminent possibility of freedom, as the battle rages on. When a brooding stranger arrives, James and his makeshift family take the man in. Soon, an unexpected bond leads to a striking romance, and everyone is in uncharted territory. But is love powerful enough to set your true self free? This lyrical and lushly realized play is part of poet, filmmaker and playwright Donja R. Love's exploration of queer love at pivotal moments in Black history.

Sugar in Our Wounds’ creative team includes Arnulfo Maldonado (scenic design), Dede Ayite (costume design), Jason Lyons (lighting design), Palmer Hefferan (sound design), Michael Thurber (original music), Darrell Grand Moultrie (movement), and Cookie Jordan (hair & makeup design).

Special “Sugar” Events:

Next Wednesday, May 16 at 6:30pm, playwright Donja R. Love and Oscar-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney (MTC’s upcoming Broadway premiere of Choir Boy) will participate in the Theater Talks series at Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, exploring the impact of black queer voices in theater and the power of diverse narratives to propel humanity forward. Registration details can be found HERE.

In addition, to connect with audiences at the intersection of Blackness and Queerness, Bridging Access to Care will be hosting a breakfast and panel discussion with Donja R. Love on Saturday, June 9 from 11am – 1pm at Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn. Further details to come.

Manhattan Theatre Club, under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, has become one of the country’s most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. Over the past four and a half decades, MTC productions have earned numerous awards including 7 Pulitzer Prizes and 23 Tony Awards. MTC has a Broadway home at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and two Off-Broadway theatres at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street). Renowned MTC productions include the 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner Cost of Living by Martyna Majok; Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes; August Wilson’s Jitney and The Piano Lesson; Heisenberg by Simon Stephens; The Father by Florian Zeller with translation by Christopher Hampton; Fool For Love by Sam Shepard; Airline Highway by Lisa D’Amour; Casa Valentina by Harvey Fierstein; Outside Mullingar and Doubt by John Patrick Shanley; The Commons of Pensacola by Amanda Peet; Murder Ballad by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash; The Assembled Parties by Richard Greenberg; Wit by Margaret Edson; Venus in Fur by David Ives; Good People and Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire; The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez; Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies; Ruined by Lynn Nottage; Proof by David Auburn; The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife by Charles Busch; Love! Valour! Compassion! by Terrence McNally; Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley; and Ain’t Misbehavin’, the Fats Waller musical.


Single tickets are available for purchase online at, by calling CityTix at 212-581-1212, or by visiting the New York City Center box office (131 West 55th Street). New and renewing subscribers can join MTC’s 2018-2019 season by calling The MTC Clubline at 212-399-3050. For more information, please visit

To sign up for MTC’s “30 Under 30” program, offering $30 tickets for theatregoers age 30 and under, visit

DONJA R. LOVE (Playwright) is an Afro-Queer playwright, poet, and filmmaker. He's The Lark's 2016 Van Lier New Voices Playwriting Fellow, The Playwrights Realm's 2016-2017 Writing Fellow, the 2016 Arch and Bruce Brown Playwriting Award recipient, and a Eugene O' Neill 2017 National Playwrights Conference finalist. He's also the 2011 Philadelphia Adult Grand Slam Poetry Champion. His work has been developed at Manhattan Theatre Club, Rising Circle Theatre, The Lark, and The Playwrights Realm. He's the co-founder of The Each-Other Project, an organization that helps build community and provide visibility, through art and advocacy, for LGBTQ People of Color ( Select stage-plays include: The Love* Plays (Sugar in Our Wounds, Fireflies, in the Middle), and Soft; Or the Dead N---- Poem (New Dramatists Resident Playwright Semi-finalist). Select film work: Modern Day Black Gay (web series), and Once a Star (short film).

SAHEEM ALI (Director). Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, Saheem is a director of plays and musicals with an emphasis on new work. Recent credits include Twelfth Night (the Public Theater Mobile Unit), Nollywood Dreams (Cherry Lane Theater), Dot (Detroit Public Theater), The Booty Call (Inner Voices) and A Lesson From Aloes (Juilliard). He has workshopped new plays by Donja Love, Jocelyn Bioh, Jen Silverman, Nathaniel Shapiro, Phillip Howze, Eric Micha Holmes, and James Ijames at Playwrights Realm, MCC, New York Stage & Film, National Black Theater and PEN World Voices. He has co-written two musicals with composer Michael Thurber: The Booty Call (Roundabout Underground Reading Series) and Goddess (O'Neill Musical Theater Conference). He was the associate director of The Tempest at the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park. He is a Usual Suspect and former Directing Fellow at New York Theater Workshop. Upcoming productions include Kill Move Paradise at National Black Theater and Where Storms are Born at the Williamstown Theater Festival.

STEPHANIE BERRY (Aunt Mama) recently appeared in Skeleton Crew at Baltimore Center Stage, The Bluest Eye at The Guthrie and Seven Guitars at Yale Repertory Theater. TV credits include: “Bull,” “Luke Cage,” “The Last OG,” “Blacklist,” “Blue Bloods,” “Louie,” “Broad City.” Film credits include: OG, The Delivery Man, Invasions, No Reservations, Finding Forrester. She is a recipient of an OBIE Award for The Shaneequa Chronicles - The Making of a Black Woman and the TCG/Fox Fellowship as a Distinguished Artist. She’s a founder of Blackberry Productions, a documentary theater company ministering to underserved audiences. She appears in an interactive storytelling presentation called Mississippi, Sassafras and Myrrh.

SHELDON BEST (James). Romeo and Juliet (Public Theater), (Classical Theatre of Harlem – AUDELCO nomination); brownsville song: b-side for tray (Lincoln Center/LCT3); The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Atlantic Theater); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Classical Theatre of Harlem), (Geva Theatre); The Box: A Black Comedy (Foundry Theatre); Freed (59E59 & Penguin Rep – AUDELCO nomination); Six Rounds of Vengeance, Alice in Slasherland, Geek! (Vampire Cowboys); Soul Samurai (Ma-Yi Theater & Vampire Cowboys); Paradox of the Urban Cliché (LAByrinth). Regional credits include Baltimore Center Stage, Denver Center, Studio Theater, and Cleveland Play House. TV/Film – “The Good Wife,” "Unforgettable," “Person of Interest” (CBS); Ghost Light (H9 Films). More at

FERN COZINE (Isabel) is thrilled to be making her Off-Broadway debut at MTC. She is a recent graduate of NYU Tish School of the Arts where she studied at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School. Favorite performances at NYU include: Ellida in Henrik Ibsen’s The Lady From The Sea (Atlantic Stage 2) and Olivia in Twelfth Night (Atlantic Stage 2). Thanks to Rhonda Price and The Gersh Agency.

TIFFANY RACHELLE STEWART (Mattie). Broadway: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Off-Broadway: The Public Theater: Pericles; Cherry Lane: Vagina Monologues. Regional: Berkeley Repertory, Yale Repertory: The House That Will Not Stand; Baltimore Center Stage, Milwaukee Repertory: Animal Farm; The Alliance Theatre: Vera Stark; Oregon Shakespeare Festival: Love’s Labor’s Lost, The African Co. Presents Richard III; Folger Shakespeare Theatre: Conference of the Birds. Choreography: Oregon Shakespeare Festival: The Unfortunates (world premiere), NYU Tisch NSB: Fun Home; NYU Tisch MFA Acting: Camino Real; 45th Street Theatre: Obama Drama; Lyceum Theatre: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. TV: Black Rose, All My Children, Royal Pains; Film: Hotel Pennsylvania. Awards: Best Actress in a Drama, NYTVF. Education: MFA: Yale School of Drama.

CHINAZA UCHE (Henry) is a Nigerian-American actor and writer. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, he grew up in London before immigrating to the United States at age 14. Upon graduation from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where he studied at their Experimental Theatre Wing and Classical Studio, he immediately found a home in the downtown theater scene, appearing in productions at Playwright’s Realm, New York Theatre Workshop, Transport Group, La Mama, and The National Black Theater as well as regionally at Seattle Rep and Everyman Theatre in Baltimore. Last season he appeared in the critically acclaimed production of Sojourners/Her Portmanteau at New York Theatre Workshop which was a NYT Critics Pick. On screen, he has appeared in episodes of “Golden Boy” (CBS), “Deception” (NBC), and “Blue Bloods” and in the films Mother of George (Sundance), Terry Richardson’s Last Hours (Cannes), and he stars in the upcoming feature film Nigerian Prince which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. He is currently at work on the feature film Sinkhole, shooting in Kentucky.