JAG Productions Explores Race & Heritage at JAGFEST

Article Pixel

JAG Productions is pleased to announce JAGFest, an annual festival that showcases and celebrates new plays by emerging playwrights of color. Presented February 24 - 27 at various venues in Woodstock & Pomfret, VT, the weekend-long festival of play readings and lectures celebrates and explores diverse, new voices in American theater. JAGFest will include four staged readings over the course of four days, each featuring a post-show conversation with the playwrights, actors, and directors.

Producing Artistic Director Jarvis Green says "I am beyond excited to add diversity to the cultural abundance of Woodstock and the Upper Valley with JAGFest. Introducing residents and visitors to the newest voices in theater with a festival that reflects the beautiful complex diversity of our world while bringing attention to the Black experience in theatre is absolutely thrilling. The festival harmonizes with our dedication to gathering and engaging a community of artists, teachers, friends and activists with bold new stories that reflect our world. " Readings are as follows:

Sweet by Harrison Rivers, Friday, February 24, 7:30 PM?
Directed by Taylor Reynolds
ArtisTree Community Arts Center, 2095 Pomfret Rd, South Pomfret, VT 05067

Smart People by Lydia Diamond, Saturday, February 25, 7:30 PM
Directed by Andrew Garret Karl
Norman Williams Public Library, 10 The Green, Woodstock, VT 05091

Show #3 TBD, Sunday, February 26, 2:00 PM
ArtisTree Community Arts Center, 2095 Pomfret Rd, South Pomfret, VT 05067

Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical, Book: Melvin Tunstall III, Music: Greg Borowsky & Douglas Lyons, Lyrics: Douglas Lyons, Monday, February 27, 10:00AM
Directed by Nate Bertone
Woodstock Town Hall Theatre, 31 The Green, Woodstock, VT 05091

Admission is FREE, but reservations are required. Contact the box office to secure your reservation at 802.332.3270 or info@jagproductionsvt.com

Accompanying the staged readings are hour-long lectures starting at 10:00AM on Saturday, February 25 at Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock, VT. No tickets are required for lectures and the speakers and schedule is as follows:

Speaker: Andrew Shade, Editor & Founder of Broadway Black
Time: 10:00AM
Location: Norman Williams Public Library, 10 The Green, Woodstock, VT 05091
About: Broadway Black is dedicated to highlighting the achievements and successes of African-American theatre artists on and off the Broadway stage.

Speaker: Taylor Reynolds, Producing Artistic Leader of The Movement Theatre Company
Time: 11:00AM
Location: Norman Williams Public Library, 10 The Green, Woodstock, VT 05091
About: The Movement Theatre Company creates an artistic social movement by developing and producing new work by artists of color. Our work engages audiences in a rich theatrical dialogue, enlightens communities to the important issues affecting our world, and empowers artists to celebrate the many sides of their unique voice.

Panel Discussion: Featuring the cast of Sweet & Smart People
Time: 2:00PM
Location: Norman Williams Public Library, 10 The Green, Woodstock, VT 05091
About: The cast of Sweet & Smart People discuss diversity in the American theater.

About the Plays & Playwrights

Sweet by Harrison David Rivers: Retha and Nina Baker have always been close-folding laundry together, chasing fireflies together, and enduring the summer heat together. But when their mother dies unexpectedly and their neighbor, George, returns home from college, the sisters' relationship begins to fray and long-held desires threaten to tear them apart. Set on the outskirts of an all-black town in rural Kansas, Sweet is a coming of age story about the sacrifices we make to hold on to the ones we love.

Playwright Harrison David Rivers is the winner of a GLAAD Media Award, a McKnight Fellowship for Playwrights, a Many Voices Jerome Fellowship, a Van Lier Fellowship, an Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship and the New York Stage & Film's Founders Award. He is the 2016 Playwright-in-Residence at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. His plays include Sweet (World Premier National Black Theatre), And She Would Stand Like This (The Movement Theatre Company), Where Storms Are Born (Williamstown) and When Last We Flew (Sundance). Harrison is an alumnus of the Emerging Writers' Group at The Public Theater. MFA: Columbia University.

Smart People by Lydia Diamond: On the eve of Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential Election, four hyper-intelligent Cambridge residents find that -- despite their best intentions upon broaching the subject -- the topic of race is a treacherous one, full of stumbles and wrong turns. Through bright, funny dialogue and fast-paced vignettes, playwright Lydia Diamond (Broadway's Stick Fly) sets brings her quartet of complicated characters to vibrant life. As they each bull-headedly pursue their professional and personal goals, they find that issues of self-awareness, identity, and race are stumbling blocks that even "smart people" can't seem to avoid.

Playwright Lydia R. Diamond most recent play, Smart People, was commissioned by the McCarter Theatre and had its world premiere at the Huntington in 2014. The Huntington's 2010 hit production of her play Stick Fly produced in association with Arena Stage inspired the 2011 Tony Award-nominated Broadway production. Awards for Stick Fly include a 2012 Outer Circle Critics Award nomination for Best Play (Broadway), 2010 IRNE Award for Best Play, 2010 LA Critics Circle Award for Playwriting, 2010 LA Garland Award for Playwriting, 2009 LA Weekly Theatre Award for Playwriting, 2008 Susan S. Blackburn Finalist, 2006 Black Theatre Alliance Award, and 2006 Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination for Best New Work. Her other plays include Voyeurs de Venus (2006 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work, 2006 BTAA for Best Writing); The Bluest Eye (2006 Black Arts Alliance Image Award for Best New Play, 2008 American Alliance for Theatre and Education Distinguished Play Award); The Gift Horse (2005 Theodore Ward Prize, Kesselring Prize - 2nd Place); Harriet Jacobs; and Stage Black. She was a 2005-2006 Harvard WEB Du Bois Institute non-resident Fellow, a 2007 TCG/NEA Playwright in Residence at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, a 2012-2013 Radcliffe Institute Fellow, a 2012 Sallie B. Goodman McCarter Fellow, and a 2012 Sundance Institute Playwright Lab Creative Advisor. She is currently a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and a playwright in residence at Arena Stage. Ms. Diamond is a graduate of Northwestern University where she majored in performance studies. She has an honorary doctorate of arts from Pine Manor College and was on faculty at Boston University.

Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical, Book: Melvin Tunstall III, Music: Greg Borowsky & Douglas Lyons, Lyrics: Douglas Lyons: Polkadots: the Cool Kids Musical follows 8-year-old Lily Polkadot who just moved to the "Squares Only" small town of Rockaway. As the first polkadot in an all-Square school, Lily faces an almost impossible task of gaining acceptance from her peers. From daily bullying, to segregated drinking fountains, Lily's quest seems hopeless until she meets Sky, a shy Square boy whose curiosity for her unique polka dot skin blooms into an unexpected pal-ship. Inspired by the events of The Little Rock 9, Polkadots: the Cool Kids Musical serves as a colorful history lesson for children, reminding them that our individual differences make us awesome, not outcasts." After one professional reading in August of 2015, Polkadots has had two successful developmental runs at Carnegie Mellon University and The Ivoryton Playhouse. The show was? awarded the Bully Free Communities Spotlight Award for the production at Ivoryton Playhouse. The World Premiere Album of Polkadots released by Sony Masterworks features Alex Newell (Glee), Shanice Williams (NBC's The Wiz), Lilli Cooper (SpongeBob the Musical), Alysha Deslorieux (Hamilton) and many more.

Special Event:
Fundraiser Luncheon with the Artists of JAGFest: 12:00PM, Saturday, February 25 at St. James Episcopal Church. $50 per person, cash or check at the door. All proceeds go towards JAGFest 2018!

JAGFest is proudly sponsored by: Bookstock, Woodstock Learning Lab, Pentangle Arts & ArtisTree Community Arts Center, The Jackson House Inn

JAG Productions' mission is to produce bold theater that reflects the times. The company's goal is for the community to come to the theater to hear new stories and leave inspired. The company aims for its patrons to move through the world with more love, greater kindness, and greater compassion for one another after seeing a production.

Related Articles View More Vermont Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You