One weekend, 4 plays, the talented actors and artistic team at JAG Productions. It’s all you need to get yourself and a handful of friends to the Briggs Opera House for JAGFest 2.0, a festival of new theater works by four African-American playwrights. The festival will run through the weekend of February 9 to 11. Discussions will follow performances, with some Dartmouth professors lending their expertise. Scroll down for dates, times, and brief synopses of the plays on offer.
JAG Productions is in its second year of showcasing the African-American experience through live theater. It began in the fall of 2016 with a full production of Choir Boy, followed by the inaugural JAGFest, and finally, a production of August Wilson’s Fences. In addition to box office success, the company also performed for over 600 local students at free matinees. Jarvis Antonio Green, JAG’s founder and Producing Artistic Director, was particularly touched by letters he received from young people, who thanked him for “being let in on this culture.” Their responses reinforced his intuition that Vermont was a place where JAG Productions would flourish.
Jarvis Antonio Green accepts the NETC award for Outstanding Achievement in the American Theater
And flourish it has. After only a single year, JAG Productions earned the New England Theatre Conference’s Regional Award for Outstanding Achievement in The American Theatre (read here). It has also received a currently active $15,000 matching grant; you can effectively double your donation by going to the JAG Productions website to support this company that brings bold theater to the Upper Valley. (Keep an eye out for the acclaimed Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill which JAG will stage in the late spring of 2018.)
Last year’s JAGFest
Below is information about each of the JAGFest 2.0 staged readings. To purchase tickets, and to read bios of the playwrights and scholars, head to JAG Productions’ website. Single tickets and weekend passes are available.
Esai’s Table by Nathan Yungerberg, Friday, February 9, 7:30PM
Esai's Table follows the journey of three young black men on a mythical night sea journey atop a magical old table. Through artistic expression and personal revelations, we learn why they've been chosen to navigate this journey. Destiny meets eternity in this story of friendship, family, and love.
The Hole by Zhailon Levingston, Saturday, February 10, 4:30PM
A riff on Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hole explores the relationship and personal struggles of two inmates in solitary confinement.
Untitled by Korde Arrington Tuttle, Saturday, February 10, 7:30PM
Korde Arrington Tuttle's currently untitled play is an ensemble-driven investigation of the relationship between space exploration and the Middle Passage, of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Inspired by the Joint Stock Method, where work is generated by a non-hierarchically organized company, Korde and director, Stevie Walker-Webb, have organized a series of workshops. In the time between the winter workshops and the company's residency in Vermont, the playwright has taken time to construct a story, and generate a brand new play. Korde is thrilled that JAGFest will be the very first public presentation of this new, company-based experiment.
Re:Definition by NSangou Njikam, Sunday, February 11, 4:00PM
After feeling like an outsider during the West Indian Day Parade, Glenn is determined to find his cultural roots. When he receives the results of an African Ancestry DNA test, he feels he must now become "a for real African." But how? Soon, we follow him on an ancestral journey as he attempts to discover what it takes to truly connect to his roots. Using Hip Hop Theatre and West African performance conventions, NSangou Njikam explores what it means to define yourself for yourself . . . and what self-definition actually costs. Can Glenn be a "for real African" or will he always be "just Black"?
(Featured photo, top: Playwright Zhailon Levingston. All photos and play synopses courtesy of JAG Productions)
Please subscribe to this blog about the arts in the Upper Valley by hitting the “Subscribe” button. It’s free. No spam. Thank you. —Susan B. Apel