When the Vanguard Theater Company was founded in 2015, Janeece Freeman Clark and Daryl Stewart were seeking to create a home for those with a passion for the performing arts that fostered growth, diversity, and inclusivity.
They believe that these practices and opportunities within theater “have the power to connect people across cultures and social divides.”
Vanguard Theater Company (VTC), serves the Northern New Jersey area by emphasizing the value of DREAM: Diversity, Reciprocity, Education, Awareness, and Mentorship. Both Clark and Stewart sought out to right the wrongs that traditional theater casting often enforces, and, in turn, created a space for a talented and diverse cast of actors to display their passion and abilities on the stage.
VTC has effectively immersed itself in the community, partnering with the Montclair Film Festival to present a talkback after a screening celebrating Black History Month in February. In April, the theater company once again partnered with the festival in order to create a presentation for Autism Awareness. And also taking place this past April, the Vanguard Theater Company has partnered with the Seton Hall University Theater department for the third year in a row, to present a sold-out Broadway Buddy Mentorship performance at the South Orange Performing Arts Center. In May, VTC partnered with Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Students Demand Action to host a benefit concert, entitled, Sing for Our Lives, comprised of songs, presentations, and speeches to raise public awareness surrounding gun violence in our area.
After joining the Board of Directors at Vanguard Theater Company in January of 2017, Jessica Sporn began serving as Managing Director of VTC as in October of 2017. Jessica Sporn has brought her 20 years of experience with the Gas Lamp Players of Glen Ridge to the Vanguard Theater Company. The Montclair Dispatch had the pleasure of speaking with Jessica about her role within the company, as well as VTC’s accomplishments and a long list of impressive performances.
“Vanguard Theater Company is beyond a company, it’s a community. We are dedicated to our acronym, ‘DREAM,’ and the letters that it represents. At our core, we lead with diversity within our community, our audiences, and our players, celebrating people from across the spectrum of race, color, gender, and region. We celebrate our commonalities.”
I asked Jessica about VTC’s most recent productions, and upcoming events and performances.
“We just finished productions in New York City, which was the first time that we took our educational programs there. Our Middle School group performed Children’s Letters to God at The Barrow Group, while the senior division performed Two Gentleman of Verona at the West End Theater. All of the shows were sold-out and well received! Although the performances were a lot of work, the kids loved the experience of putting on a show in New York.”
“And this summer, we have our Summerstock Sleepaway Camp,” which is an intensive camp for theater lovers and performers. “The Junior Division (ages 12-15) will be performing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and 13 The Musical. The Senior Division (ages 15-18) will be running Heathers The Musical. And on November 3rd, we will have our Gala fundraiser.”
Vanguard Theater Company produces amazing shows that would not be possible without such a dedicated staff of talented individuals. The Montclair Dispatch encourages our readers to attend any VTC productions.
Vanguard Theater Company is a not for profit creative arts organization. Please consider donating.
The author of the article is a Montclair native class of 2017, currently a student at McGill University, studying history and communications within the Faculty of Arts.
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