Vivian Nesbitt and John Dillon break out from their roles as hosts of Art of the Song and into the spotlight with Mother Jones In Heaven, a one-woman musical by songwriter and author Si Kahn. Vivian portrays the legendary labor organizer Mother Jones through story and song, and John accompanies on guitar.
Vivian Nesbitt (Breaking Bad, The Night Shift, Longmire and more) portrays Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, with musical accompaniment by John Dillon, in Si Kahn’s one-woman musical about the infamous labor organizer famed for her tireless efforts on behalf of the rights of the working class. Leading the charge for better working conditions and fair pay for coal miners, mill workers and child laborers, Mother Jones was dubbed The Most Dangerous Woman in America by a West Virginia judge because, “At the crook of her little finger, she could get 8,000 men to walk out on strike.” Feared, revered and lauded in song and story, Mother Jones was “the grandmother of all agitators.” At a time when issues that unions stand for, like safe working conditions, fair pay and equal rights are under attack, the play stands as a reminder that the fight is far from over.
The musical opens as Mother Jones arrives in Heaven to discover that it’s identical to her favorite Irish Pub in Hyattsville, MD. In the course of the 70-minute performance, Mother Jones looks back over her life, balancing the scales as she sifts through her storied past, weaving moments of profound insight with hilarious tales of a hellion in her prime. On the one side, her methods and practices, on the other, her reputation and results. Director Alice Jankell skillfully sets the pace for the compelling book and ten original songs by author, activist, songwriter Si Kahn.
CAST CD NOW AVAILABLE IN OUR SHOP!
Vivian Nesbitt – Actress
You’ve seen her on The Night Shift, Breaking Bad, Manhattan, In Plain Sight, The Messengers, Longmire, and more. Vivian’s first professional acting job was understudying on Broadway at Roundabout Theater. She has gone on to develop a considerable body of work including Off-Broadway’s United Solo Festival, Theatre Row, NYC where her original solo play The Bark & The Tree was awarded Best Documentary Play and Best Lighting Design, as well as regional theater and summer Shakespeare. Her short film Leverage was an official selection of Taos Shortz Film Festival and NMWIF Film Fiesta garnering her an award for Best Performance. She was invited to perform her original solo play The Bark & The Tree at the prestigious Los Angeles Women’s Theater Festival in 2016. She holds an MFA in Acting and has continued her studies with luminaries such as Anna Deavere Smith and Alan Arkin. Vivian is also host and co-producer (with her husband John) of Art of the Song, heard on public radio nationwide.
Si Kahn – Author
Si Kahn is a folk, bluegrass and roots music legend, once described as “a rumor in his own time.” At almost 75 years old, he is at the peak of his powers as performer, songwriter and recording artist. His songs of family, community, love, work and freedom have been recorded and performed by hundreds of artists in North America and Europe.
For 52 years, he’s worked professionally as a civil rights, labor and community organizer. He’s currently the lead organizer for Musicians United To Protect Bristol Bay, an international network of over 650 musicians and music lovers using their music and media access to help stop the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska. Si has sometimes described his music as “a hobby that got out of hand,” which indeed it has.
Si’s body of published work includes 16 CDs of his original songs, including six releases on the Dutch record label Strictly Country Records, plus albums on Rounder, Flying Fish, and the Swiss label Doubletime Music; a CD of original songs for children, Good Times and Bedtimes; a collection of traditional labor and civil rights songs recorded with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp; and the songs and/or scripts for seven musicals.
He has toured with Pete Seeger, Andy Irvine, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer and John McCutcheon, and has shared concert and festival stages with such artists as Maria Dunn (Canada), Buffy St. Marie (Canada), Peggy Seeger (England), the Looping Brothers (Germany), The Kruger Brothers (Switzerland/U.S.), Dick Gaughan (Scotland), and U.S. artists the Fairfield Four, Hazel Dickens, Ani DiFranco and the original Red Clay Ramblers. Ironically, Si has never even attempted to earn a living as a musician.
Alice Jankell – Director
For Disney, Alice helped to create and develop new Broadway musicals. As Associate Artistic Director of The Williamstown Theatre Festival, her directing work included AS YOU LIKE IT, the world premier of DINAH WAS, and ENOUGH ROPE, the special event on Dorothy Parker starring Elaine Stritch. Alice has worked and learned in venues as varied as the Mark Taper Forum, the L.A. Opera, Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, La Mama, and City Theater, among many others, as well as in film and TV. Favorite acting roles include a solo performance, backed by the L.A. Philharmonic, at the Hollywood Bowl. She has taught acting at Carnegie Mellon and on the Graduate level. For the past 6 years, Alice was the Creative Director of F.A.B. Women (For, About, and By Women) under The Barrow Group‘s Off-Broadway umbrella, helming the company of 125 professional female writers, actors and directors. During her tenure, F.A.B. Women generated and produced 48 new plays. Alice is a founding member of Core Artists Ensemble, and a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect.
John Dillon – Music Director, Guitarist
John is a singer-songwriter, performer, music activist and former guitar maker. In the 1970s, John spent a year traveling (by thumb and freight train) across the US and working with some legendary artists of the time. Eventually, he came to rest in Taos, New Mexico.
During his 25-year career as a guitar maker, John has built more than 80 custom instruments for musicians including Steve Earle, Tish Hinojosa, Trisha Yearwood, and The Mavericks. John plays his handmade guitars in the show.
In 2003, John and Viv launched Art of the Song, a one-hour, weekly public radio program now heard on over 100 stations across North America. The two have interviewed some of the biggest names in the industry like Roger Daltry (The Who), Smokey Robinson, Judy Collins, Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Joan Osborn, and Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna, Jefferson Airplane), to name a few. The interviews focus on the universal truths common to all creative expression.
Now with their home-base in Saratoga Springs, NY, John and Vivian spend half of the year in their 32-foot Winnebago Cambria – The MoJo Motorhome – and are pleased to share Mother Jones in Heaven with audiences across North America and beyond!
THE MARCH DATES ARE BEING RESCHEDULED. VIVIAN REALLY DID “BREAK A LEG!”
TBD Old Socialist Labor Hall, Barre, VT
TBD The Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL.
TBD Benefit Rio Grande Center for Spiritual Living, Albuquerque, NM
TBD Unitarian Universalist Santa Fe, 107 W Barcelona, Santa Fe, NM
TBD Unitarian Universalist Santa Fe, 107 W Barcelona, Santa Fe, NM
TBD Society Hall, 711 State Avenue, Alamosa, CO
TBD Irish American Heritage Center Chicago, IL Co-sponsored by The Mother Jones Heritage Project and The Working Women’s History Project
April 22, 2019 Michael Jonathon’s WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour with Si Kahn, The Looping Brothers, and Joe Jencks, Lexington, KY
April 26, 2019 5:15pm – MerleFest, Wilkesboro, NC – Mayes Pit
May 4 & 5, 2019 TBA – May Day Celebrations Mt. Olive, IL
Jan 25 & 27, 2018 Asheville Fringe Arts Festival – Asheville, NC
March 10, 2018 The Arts Center @ 12 Main, Center Sandwich, NH
April 13, 2018 Sol Acting Academy, 5500 San Mateo NE Albuquerque, NM
April 14, 2018 Sol Acting Academy, 5500 San Mateo NE Albuquerque, NM
July 14, 2018 Woody Guthrie Festival, Okemah, OK
July 20, 2018 Metta Theater, Taos, NM
July 21, 2018 Metta Theater, Taos, NM
July 22, 2018 Metta Theater, Taos, NM
August 9, 2018 St. Lawrence Arts Center, Portland, ME
August 10, 2018 St. Lawrence Arts Center, Portland, ME
August 11, 2018 St. Lawrence Arts Center, Portland, ME
August 12, 2018 St. Lawrence Arts Center, Portland, ME
Sept 15, 2018 Friends of The Modern School Annual Meeting – Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Sept 29, 2018 Round Lake Auditorium, 2 Wesley Ave, Round Lake, NY
Oct 27, 2018 Folk Alliance Region Midwest (FARM), Grand Rapids, MI
Nov 8 – 11, 2018 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance
Jan 10 -26, 2019 Warehouse Performing Arts Center, Cornelius, NC (10 performances)
Thank you for visiting Mother Jones in Heaven ~ we look forward to hearing from you.
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