On Sunday August 25th 2019 on the rooftop of The Village of WRJ building JAG productions hosted OUT HERE, a rooftop party celebrating summer and welcoming a new Upper Valley! The White River Junction based music & food series is a collective of artisans, organizers, and allies seeking to strengthen the vitality and livability of our community by joyfully taking up space! An event open to the public and free of charge, we welcomed nearly 200 Upper Valley community members to enjoy drinks by Babes Bar, food by Piecemeal Pies and Cantorie's Pizza, and a whole afternoon of mixed beats by DJ's Livemixkings and Shaktimonster. In addition, we welcomed a group of theater artists fresh from NYC who are arrived in town to participate in a 3-day Charrette (an intense, brief, collaborative session in which a group of artists drafts a solution to a question or problem). We caught up with community members Lisa Christie and Amanda Rafuse; visited with JAG family Nathan Yungerberg (JAGfest 2018, Esai’s Table 2019), Zhailon Levingston (JAGfest 2017-2019), and Gethsemane Amy Herron-Coward (JAGfest 2019); and Northern Stage artists Louis Sallan (Oslo 2018), Channie Waites (Oscar Wao Tour, 2019). We met for the first time Gamze Ceylan and Salma Zohdi. We welcomed friends old and new as they embarked on a journey to discover how theater makers of diverse backgrounds and professional skills will establish a new model of creating provocative, evocative plays to explore race relations in predominantly white regions.
JAG Productions was deeply humbled by the turn out of artists, community members, and vendors who showed up to illustrate their support of JAG's mission; to catalyze compassion, empathy, love, and community through shared understandings of the humankind through the lens of the African-American experience. Our medium is the stage, our stories are told through theatre. One Sunday, one rooftop served as our stage and everyone shared in crafting one of the most diversified stories never before seen in the eyes of our beloved, but slow changing, Upper Valley. JAG carved out space for everyone to belong and for one brief afternoon, we showed the Upper Valley what a unified community can be. In this time, in our predominantly white and fearful community, this is a bold and heart-opening move. What happened last weekend was greater than one rooftop party, it was an example set forth for the world to understand what we need most is the opportunity to be together, to empathize, to unite. The idea that empathy is the antidote to polarization keeps rolling around in our hearts and fuels our commitment to JAG!