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Annual JAGFest opens Friday

  • Isaiah Hines will perform "(Re)surface: A Poetics of Fish/Flesh," to open the fourth annual JAGfest on Feb. 7, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction, Vt. (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/5/2020 7:29:38 PM
Modified: 2/5/2020 7:29:29 PM

The first three times Jarvis Antonio Green staged readings of works-in-progress by African-American playwrights, the authors all came to the Upper Valley from away.

Then, while sorting through some 75 candidates for this weekend’s fourth annual JAGfest, Green read a proposal from a young man of color who grew up barely 90 minutes up Interstate 89 from the Upper Valley.

“I thought, ‘Wait,’” Green recalled last week. “‘I remember hearing something about a kid in South Burlington, getting his school to change their mascot.’”

Turns out that Isaiah Hines, now pursuing critical race and ethnic studies at Columbia University, can ponder big topics and dramatize them as well as he weathered racist taunts for successfully lobbying the South Burlington School Board to drop its high school’s Rebels nickname, under which he ran track and field and cross country. He’ll perform his (Re)surface: A Poetics of Fish/Flesh, to open the festival on Friday night at 7:30 at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction.

The play, according to the festival program, “considers the junctures, lacunae and ambiguities that give form/texture to black queer disabled existence.”

Subsequent readings over the weekend feature works by New York-based dramatists Jeremy O’Brien (A Curious Thing: or Superheroes K’ain’t Fly), Johnny G. Lloyd (The Problem with Magic, Is:), Sheldon Shaw (Cntrl+Alt+(Right)Del) and Keelay Gipson (Demons). The Gipson play, at Dartmouth College’s Warner Bentley Theater on Sunday afternoon at 5, closes the festival.

“This year’s proposals ran toward the unconventional, themes that force us to lean into our imagination, not have everything specific and cut and dried for you,” Green said. “The focus is more on the storytelling and the characters, which is very freeing and exciting.”

JAGfest 4.0 convenes Thursday night at 6:30 at Dartmouth College’s Top of the Hop, with a panel discussion among the festival’s five playwrights on the theme of “Making a Living, Making A Life.” To learn more about admission to the festival’s staged readings, visit jagproductionsvt.com.




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