Diana Wyenn shares personal journey to self-acceptance in ‘Blood/Sugar’

Diana Wyenn shares about learning to live with diabetes in ‘Blood/Sugar’ (Mae Too)

With November being National Diabetes Awareness Month, CaltechLive! is presenting Diana Wyenn’s ‘Blood/Sugar’ on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. This solo show, at the intersection of public health and performance, focuses on Wyenn’s life as a Type 1 diabetic, and will be performed live, broadcast from Wyenn’s home using multimedia effects, original movement, and Wyenn’s physical surroundings to create a vivid account of the life-sustaining self-care that diabetes currently demands from one out of every 10 American adults – which by 2050, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects will affect as many as 1 in 3 adults.  

Diana Wyenn was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic in London at the age of 20, the same age at which I was diagnosed as a student at CSUN. 

From personal experience, I know how difficult it was to accept that diagnosis at such a young age, and having to change your lifestyle to accommodate a chronic condition that was going to turn your life into a daily science experiment that completely changed the way in which you had to learn to live for the rest of your life, just in order to stay alive.

Wyenn created ‘Blood/Sugar’ as a means to challenge and dispel the lies, mystery, and shame surrounding diabetes in all of its forms. And now, after more than 15 years of grappling with diabetes, Wyenn shares about her relationship to her illness, which has progressed from denial to a powerful authority over her own well-being. 

And that very personal decision to take charge over the disease rather than letting it control you is, no doubt, what has saved her life – as well as mine. And I hope by tuning in, lives of others who are struggling to understand the challenges of this “invisible disability” will be saved.

The piece was originally conceived in 2017 for the stage, but her increased risk for contracting COVID-19 compelled Wyenn to rework the show for our current times, especially since those with diabetes, an autoimmune disease, are some of the most susceptible to contracting the virus. Certainly, taking it virtual opens the show up to a worldwide, and potentially much larger audience, even though a bit of the intimacy of having a live audience present may be lost.

Wyenn will host an open talkback with local diabetes educators immediately after the show, which is as integral as the performance itself in communicating about the disease with others in a safe, one-on-one setting. For the diabetes community in particular — which includes diabetics like us and our caretakers, medical professionals, and loved ones — it’s also become an important opportunity to gather and share a wealth of experiences and knowledge. 

She shared with me that, “interestingly enough, this version might be an even more intimate experience than the stage version. I bring you into my home, my kitchen, my bedroom, all so you can experience just how deeply this disease impacts my and my husband’s everyday life. I’m discovering, in many ways, this online version is the one I’ve always been working toward — I just didn’t know it. Before starting this project, I had never met another Type 1 Diabetic in my life (that I knew of) and it’s been a real gift to meet and connect with others living with this disease.”

‘Blood/Sugar’ general admission tickets are $20 per household/connection, and can be ordered at events.caltech.edu or events.caltech.edu/bloodsugar_tix. Ticket holders will be emailed a link to view the production a few hours prior to the performance on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m., with a running time of sixty-five minutes, followed by a twenty to thirty-minute talkback.