JAGfest Returns to the Briggs in White River Junction

JAG Productions will present JAGfest 3.0 with staged readings of new plays by African-American artists at the Briggs Opera House during the weekend of February 8 through 10, 2019. This 3rd season of JAGfest features the works of four Black women playwrights. Scroll down for names, titles, dates, times and brief summaries of each of these workshopped pieces.  

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Time to party! At 10:00 p.m, following the first performance on Friday, February 8, JAG Productions will celebrate with the JAGfest Dance Party (DJ Sean) at Piecemeal Pies in White River Junction, Vermont, just next to the Briggs Opera House. Champagne and snacks are free of charge for festival pass holders.

There are also numerous free community events throughout the Upper Valley next week, including a Community Welcome Dinner at Piecemeal Pies on Monday, February 4 at 6:30 p.m., lectures at Dartmouth College, and the screening of the film "Sighted Eyes," a documentary about author Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun) on Thursday, February 7 at 7 p.m at the Briggs, in partnership with White River Indie Films. Admission to the film is by donation.

Admission to JAGfest is $20 per performance, or $50 for a festival pass (includes all four staged readings). For further information about the many community events,  or to buy tickets to the plays and Friday night party, go to https://www.jagproductionsvt.com/jagfest2019

Producing Artistic Director Jarvis Green has just returned from taking his production of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, seen last season starring the amazing Francesca Harper at The Engine Room in White River Junction, VT (as well as at Vermont's Grange Theatre and Main Street Landing Black Box Theatre) on the road, or more accurately, on the sea. The production was selected by Capital Jazz Fest for its musical festival at sea during a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas cruise ship, with stops in Haiti, Honduras, Belize and Mexico.

Dates, times, and playwrights, titles, and summaries of JAGfest performances:

Play #1

The Last Day of Black History Month: A Conversation with a Naked Black Southern Lesbian by Maine Anders & Ayesha Dillabough, Friday, February 8, 7:30PM

Directed by Kia Warren & Ayesha Dillabough

Synopsis:The international “triple threat of burlesque” baptized by Michael Musto as one of ‘NYC’s Creatures of the Night’ in Out Magazine,  The “Maine Attraction” Anders (Lady L’Amours Final Bow, Duane Park, Cheek to Cheek: Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett) shares her story of ancestry and artistic resilience with a personal and humorous timeline of our nation’s violent and systematic oppression. Hailing from Decatur, Georgia, Anders’ one-woman master-class on the prominent underbelly of American history, The Last Day of Black History Month... is a multimedia show featuring dance, comedy, music, and poetry unveiling hidden truths while facilitating acceptance, compassion, and unity.

Play #2

Rabbit Summer by Tracey Conyer Lee, Saturday, February 9, 4:00PM

Directed by Christopher Burris

Synopsis: Wilson and Ruby have good jobs, a beautiful home, a child...working on another, while Ruby's best friend, Claire, has just lost her unarmed Black husband to the quick trigger of a white cop. Wilson idealizes his marriage and ignores the irony of his job as a police officer, smiling through pain Ruby wishes he would share. Tired of feeling helpless and trapped in her Huxtable-like existence, Ruby has a secret plan to fix the American gun problem and push her husband to unpack the legacy of false manhood. As Claire mourns in the comfort of her friends, secrets are unearthed stirring a pot of reality Wilson has never tasted, pitting Black against blue, gun violence against police brutality, manhood against fatherhood and love against need. The trio individually battle to live their truths in a country built on lies while navigating the uniquely American condition of “Being, While Black”.

Play #3

If This Be Sin A New Musical

Book by Kirya Traber

Music by Sissi Liu, Saturday, February 9, 7:30PM

Directed & Choreographed by Christopher Windom

Synopsis: If This Be Sin is a new musical based on the life of the queer Harlem Renaissance entertainer, Gladys Bentley. In 2016 Kirya workshopped the play, Permitted through, the Queerly Fest, the NBT's Keep Soul Alive reading series, and Submerge at Brooklyn Arts Exchange. The play focused on Bentley's life at a pivotal moment in the 1940s when she's lost her prominence and is facing backlash at the dawn of the MacArthur era. Kirya realized that given grand and spectacular scope of Bentley's real life, any retelling deserves the spectacle and grandeur of a musical. The new work, If This Be Sin, (who’s titled is borrowed from an autobiography Bentley spoke of but likely never wrote) is being developed with a full musical score, and will represent Bentley in her early life as an infamous performer in Harlem, as well as her eventual choice to conform and marry a man in the early 1950’s.

Play #4

Blanks or Sunday Afternoon, After Church by Gethsemane Herron-Coward, Sunday, February 10, 4:00PM

Directed by: TBD

Synopsis: Medical student Reese desperately hunts for the romance of her dreams while her “aunties-” Black women through history and media- dissuade, distract and try to save her from love’s violent abandonment- something they all experienced, something they all did not survive. BLANKS interrogates how intimate partner violence, intersectional patriarchy, and neglect affect Black women’s pursuit of romantic and filial love. It asks if love conquers all, what happens when it conquers you?

From JAGfest 2.0, 2018


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