2019 Heroes & Leaders Celebration Will Honor Jarvis Green
On May 30, Vital Communities will honor Jarvis Green and other individuals and organizations that have contributed to the vitality of the Upper Valley at its eighth annual Heroes & Leaders dinner. This year's event, part of Vital Communities' yearlong 25th anniversary celebration, will be held at the Top of the Hop and Alumni Hall in Hanover.
Green is the Founder of JAG Productions and has served as its Producing Artistic Director since 2015. JAG was formed with the mission to produce classic and contemporary African-American theatre; to serve as an incubator of new work that excites broad intellectual engagement; and thereby, to catalyze compassion, empathy, love, and community through shared understandings of the humankind through the lens of the African-American experience. With a home base in White River Junction - at the confluence of the White and Connecticut Rivers, which separate Abenaki land into the majority white states of Vermont and New Hampshire - JAG Productions nurtures and sustains a multi-generational and multi-racial theatre company with Black artists and community organizers at its center. "I am deeply honored by this recognition by Vital Communities and humbled that the work I am doing is valued and supported by this community," says Green. "In this contemporary moment where we are constantly being made aware of the deep divisions that keep us segregated from people who do act, think, talk or look like us - it is crucial now more than ever that we build, encourage & support artists and cultural workers that reflect the diversity of our nation and our world."
The theatre company recently closed its third season with JAGfest 3.0, an annual festival of new works celebrating the talents of African-American Playwrights. The weeklong festival of workshops and events hosted 30 artists, 4 playwrights, and saw 800 attendees during the four sold out readings.
During JAGfest 2.0 in 2018, the company cultivated Nathan Yungerberg's play Esai's Table; a dream was then born to produce the world premiere of this play in the Upper Valley for the community that nurtured and supported its development. October 2019 will see the fruition of that dream as JAG presents the world premiere of Esai's Table at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction, VT. The play will subsequently transfer Off-Broadway to the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City. Esai's Table marks a pivotal moment for JAG as it's first world premiere, first Off-Broadway transfer, and first co-production. Says Green of the project, "This is a particularly exciting moment for the company and our community. I'm so proud to bring this important play and JAG's mission first to our community and then to the world through this collaboration with Nathan and Cherry Lane."
JAG's 2018-19 season saw other notable firsts including selecting and introducing its founding Board of Directors led by Co-chairs Brian Cook and Jacqueline Fischer. In October, the company launched its inaugural benefit dinner party JAG Juke Joint, which included live performances from nationally recognized black theater artists and southern home cooking. The event was sold-out with 200 attendees and raised more than $20,000. In January 2019, JAG's production of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill was selected by Capital Jazz to be featured during its 12th Annual SuperCruise, a full-ship African-American Jazz music festival at sea. JAG's was the only theatrical production selected to perform during the 8-day festival that featured noted Jazz performers such as Sheila E., Take 6, and Babyface Nelson. The festival was host to 4000 attendees and departed in January 2019 from Florida, visiting Haiti, Honduras, Belize, and Mexico.
Beyond theatrical productions and events, JAG works to bring its mission and values to the public through outreach programs such as a free student matinee program, educational support materials, and guest speaking engagements. Jarvis Green recently was the keynote speaker at Lebanon High School's first Martin Luther King Day celebration. JAG provides classroom packets for teachers to engage students in conversations about race in their communities. JAG also partners with Dartmouth College, White River Indie Festival, and other area organizations to bring artists for workshops and public panel discussions with topics as varied as the limitations and possibilities of curating Black experiences in white institutions in spite of the white supremacist power structures with which Black artists have to contend, reflecting on the afterlives and the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade through the lens of Black theatre artists and Black queer and feminist artists, and Aretha Franklin's legacy and her pursuit and love of opera.
"It is a great joy for us at Vital Communities to take a moment each year to honor people who have contributed to the vibrancy of the Upper Valley in significant and sustained ways," says Rob Schultz, director of development and manager of Leadership Upper Valley at Vital Communities. "As we celebrate 25 years of working together to cultivate the region's civic, environmental, and economic vitality, we're especially pleased to recognize this inspiring group of leaders who have been at the forefront of significant movements for positive change in the Upper Valley. We joyfully include the founders of Vital Communities in this group and will honor them as part of the evening."
This year's honorees include Liza Bernard and Penny McConnell, Len Cadwallader, Delia Clark, Ivy Condon, Edgewater Farm, Jarvis Green, Curt and Sharon Jacques, Prudence Pease, Monique Priestley, Stan Williams, Doug Wise, and Chuck Wooster and Sue Kirincich.
Currently, JAG is advancing its organizational structure and seeking support for the 2019-2020 theatrical season. To learn more and to donate, visit www.jagproductionsvt.com/donate