Professional Nonprofit Theater on Martha's Vineyard
Buy Tickets
24 Church Street, Box 2452, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 | 508-696-6300

Art and Social Justice Meet at Yard’s Off-Season Opener

by Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

 

The Yard opens its winter arts season at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 with two performances of Pang!, a theatre work about food insecurity by performance artist Dan Froot.

“It’s basically three radio plays, each 25 minutes long,” said Yard artistic director David White, who last presented Mr. Froot here in 2015 with a puppet play titled Who’s Hungry.

A longtime professor at UCLA, Mr. Froot is a dancer, choreographer, composer, saxophonist and actor who also directs and produces his work, including a Pang! podcast that debuted over the summer. Both Pang! and Who’s Hungry are based in the actual testimony of families living without ready access to food. Mr. White said the Yard is partnering with Island Grown Initiative to distribute tickets purchased by Steve Bernier of Cronig’s Markets for Islanders who would otherwise be unable to attend.

“We’re excited about this as a piece for us,” Mr. White said. “It is a great opportunity to work with Island Grown which, face it, is a hero organization.”

Audience members have the option to take part in Pang! by joining what Mr. White called a “kitchen table” in front of the stage, where they can interact with the cast and each other.

“We’re under no illusion that a single performance, or two performances, changes things,” when it comes to the stubborn issue of food equity, Mr. White said. “What we hope, though, is that it inspires a different kind of conversation. This is a way to try and make this much more visceral.”

Pang! marks the first time the Yard, which closes its unheated Chilmark theatre after the summer season, has presented a show at the playhouse.

“MJ [Bruder Munafo, the theatre’s artistic and executive director] was totally welcoming of this,” Mr. White said.

The Yard returns to dance for its next two winter performances, beginning with Rubberband Jan. 15 at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center. A Montreal-based dance troupe choreographed by Mexican-born innovator Victor Quijara, Rubberband has toured widely in the U.S. but never visited the Vineyard, Mr. White said.

“The work builds on the vitality of street dance, but it also adds a social justice perspective,” he said.

The Vineyard program includes Mr. Quijara’s work titled Vic’s Mix that pulls together elements from other pieces he has designed. “It’s really terrific,” Mr. White said.

Malpaso Dance Company, a Cuban ensemble that has become an audience favorite during the Yard’s summer season, makes its first winter trip to the Vineyard for a residency from March 3 to March 11, with a performance planned for March 4 at a venue to be announced.

While they’re here, the Malpaso dancers will work with community members and, for the first time, with students in Island schools, Mr. White said.

A music concert is always part of the Yard’s winter season. Past winter concerts presented by the Yard have included the Brooklyn bhangra group Red Baraat, all-female mariachi ensemble Flor de Toloache and avant-garde Canadian Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq. But Mr. White said he wasn’t ready yet to name the band or venue, though he confirmed that it would be a dancehall event taking place down-Island.

Connect with us