JAG Productions Shines Spotlight On Black Female Playwrights In 3rd Annual JAGfest
Every February for the past two years, JAG Productions has invited African-American theatre artists to spend a week in White River Junction, Vermont to further the development of a new play or solo performance. Over the course of the one-week residency, three-five projects receive an intensive workshop, constructive feedback, and a staged reading for the public at Briggs Opera House!
We are pleased to announce the third edition of our festival of new works in African-American theatre, JAGfest 3.0! This year, we are delighted that all the playwrights are Black women. Presented February 8-10, JAGfest 3.0 will include four staged readings of their works, over the course of three days, each featuring a post-show conversation with the artists and moderated by Dartmouth scholars. We'll celebrate the festival after the first play, at 10:00PM, on Friday, February 9, with the JAGfest Dance Party with DJ Sean at Piecemeal Pies in White River Junction, VT. Champagne toast, snacks and free of charge for JAGFest weekend pass ticket holders.
The four plays will be:
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.
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".
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.
Blanks or Sunday Afternoon, After Church by Gethsemane Herron-Coward, Sunday, February 10, 4:00PM
Directed by NJ Agwuna
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?
Admission is $20 per performance and $50 for a weekend pass to all 4 shows! For more information and to buy tickets to the plays and to the JAGfest Dance Party, go to https://www.jagproductionsvt.com/jagfest2019
Maine Anders, better known as "The Maine Attraction," landed her first television appearance as a teenager performing in MTV's 'Fight For Your Rights Campaign.' Since then, her career has soared playing alongside greats including James Brown and Lionel Richie, and burlesque divas Dita Von Teese and Amanda Lepore; making The Maine Attraction a burlesque legend in her own right. As muse for numerous visual artists, Maine has collaborated with everyone from conceptual photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier and acclaimed multimedia artist, Matthew Barney, to the infamous DJ Tiesto and performed at exclusive fashion events hosted by icons Patricia Field and Marc Jacobs. Her ability to transform herself into a myriad of characters gives her the opportunity to play roles that are left of center, and fuse the elements of sex, comedy and drama, as seen in her self-conceptualized debut, The last Day of Black History Month: A Conversation with a Naked Black Southern Lesbian. Seen playing herself in Dee Rees' "Pariah," Maine has also played leading roles in indie features: "Miente" (Cannes, Havana Film Festival), farcical blaxploitation sensation "Nefertitty", "Nefertitty In Space" and comedy-thriller "The Horror at Gallery Kay". Her role in "Million In The Mirror", a PSA for breast cancer research, recently won The Viewers Choice Award on the Lifetime Channel. Most recently she was a featured dancer for the Grammy Award Winning Cheek To Cheek PBS Special with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, and the popular downtown burlesque murder mystery, "Lady L'Amour's Final Bow".
Ayesha Dillabough (San Francisco Bay Area) was exposed to film at the tender age of 8 as a featured extra in Sister Act. Proclaimed as "simply adorable" by Whoopi Goldberg, she soon found her love for being a ham.... A cute one. Her knack for the writing and comedic arts has burgeoned. Whether an impromptu set with Dave Attell and Jeff Ross, backstage at The Box poking fun at Jude Law, or guest bartending/jibing at Duane Park, Ayesha is all about the laugh. Her comedic voice shines through as co-writer/director of The Last Day of Black History Month: A Conversation with a Naked Black Southern Lesbian.
Tracey Conyer Lee is a playwright fellow with National Black Theatre. Rabbit Summer, a 2018 Princess Grace Award finalist, has been developed at the Kennedy Center and the 2018 Women's Voices Festival through Ally Theatre Company, and will premiere in 2019 at Aurora Theatre outside Atlanta. Lee's other plays have received production or development at FringeNYC, The Fire This Time Festival, Urban Stages, Boomerang Theatre Company, Redtwist and Congo Square Theatres in Chicago and National Black Theatre. A professional actor for over 25 years, Ms. Lee has originated roles Off Broadway and regionally, performing in over 80 professional productions yielding Carbonell, NAACP and Barrymore Awards. She has also won acting awards for her independent film work and has played roles on the small screen in The Path, Ed, SMASH, L&O: Criminal Intent, All My Children & Guiding Light.
Kirya Traber is a nationally awarded writer, performer, cultural worker. She is co-host of the PBS series, First Person, and the Lead Community Artist in Residence with Lincoln Center Education. Her plays include the NY Times Critic's Pick, Ping Chong & Company presents Undesirable Elements: Generation NYZ (2018), Music in Color: The Legacy of Florence Price, commissioned by the Orchestra of St Luke's (2017), Both My Grandfathers, developed at Lincoln Center Education (2015), and The Life of Belle da Costa Greene, commissioned by the Morgan Library & Museum (2013). Kirya is the recipient of the a California Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, Robert Redford's Sundance Foundation award for Activism in the Arts, and an Astrea Foundation award for Poetry.
Gethsemane Herron-Coward is a poet-turned-playwright from Washington, D.C. She is a 2016 Semi-Finalist for the Rising Circle INK TANK, a 2016 Finalist for the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, a 2017 Finalist for SPACE on Ryder Farm. Gethsemane is also a 2016 Grant Recipient from the Puffin Foundation, which supported her residency with JAW Magic Time at Judson Memorial Church. Gethsemane's short play, The Falling Man received a production in The Fire This Time Festival in 2018. Her work has been supported by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Millay Colony, where she was the 2018 Yasmin Scholarship Fellow. Her work has been seen in Atlanta Black Star, The Washington Post, the 24 Hour Plays: Nationals and Columbia University, where she is completing her MFA in Playwriting. She is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.