Events

Sail M.V. board member Paul Schneider introduced presenter Sean McNeill during a dinner and lecture event earlier this year. — File photo by Susan Safford

With the possibility of a blizzard and high winds on Wednesday, Sail Martha’s Vineyard has postponed its dinner and lecture event with historian and author George C. Daughan at the Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven.

“Unfortunately, George Daughan was not able to rearrange his schedule and hopefully we will be having him at another date. We have been able to get Paul Schneider to speak next week on his recent book, ‘Old Man River,’ about the history of the Mississippi River,” wrote Hope Callen, Sail M.V. administrator, in an email.

Catboat enthusiast Tim Fallon will speak at the last talk of the Sail M.V. series on April 16.

The dinner and lecture begins at 6 pm and costs $25. For more information, call 508-696-7644 or email sail_mv@verizon.net.

Pictured are the three potential images the party will paint on Sunday. Attendees vote for their choice online. — Photo courtesy of Leslie Belkner

Paint Corner, a Cambridge-based company that hosts painting classes together with cocktail parties, will host a painting party this Sunday, March 23, at The Wharf in Edgartown, at 6:30 pm.

“The festivities center on a new phenomenon — a group painting class,” according to a press release. The $35 admission fee includes all materials and a two-hour “relaxed” instruction with artist Leslie Roberts Belkner, a part-time Islander. While painting, patrons are welcome to order food and drinks from The Wharf’s menu.

Pre-registration is required by visiting paintcornerartbar.com or calling 617-864-0263. Once one registers, they may vote on one of three paintings. The painting with the most votes as of Saturday, March 22, will be the one painted at Sunday’s event.

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Stepmother (played by Corinne deLangavant) consults the magic mirror (Clark Maffitt) in "Mirror, Mirror" during rehearsal. — Photo by Meg Higgins

For the next two weekends, Island Theatre Workshop (ITW) will inject a dose of humor to the tail end of the winter with its seventh annual One Act Play Festival. The three short plays included this time around are all comedies, but their styles range from relatively silly, to clever with a twist, to a wry British parody with a sweetly sentimental twist.

“The one acts are a perfect time to do something light. It’s winter,” said Kevin Ryan, who is one of the three directors – along with Leslie J. Stark and Lee Fierro – presenting work.

Mr. Ryan’s selection, the middle play of the program, is the lightest of all. It’s a short piece called “Mirror, Mirror” by Bruce Kane that spoofs the traditional fairy tale.

“He’s taken two or three very popular fairy tales and mashed them together,” Mr. Ryan said. “It’s a little over the top.”

Jesse Seward rehearsed his role as Prince Charming for the upcoming One Act Play Festival.
Jesse Seward rehearsed his role as Prince Charming for the upcoming One Act Play Festival.

The short play takes place in a contemporary setting and features a wicked stepmother (of course), a beautiful stepdaughter (naturally), and princes. The scene stealer of the show however is a talking mirror that doesn’t always cooperate. As the mirror, the very talented and versatile actor Clark Maffitt brings his deadpan comedic chops to the show.

The short play also features Brad Austin, Tim Daniels, Corinne deLangavant, Katrina Nevin, Jesse Seward, and Becky Williams.

For his directorial outing, longtime ITW actor/director Leslie J. Stark has chosen David Ives’s “Sure Thing.” The one act is part of a series of short plays that are often performed together under the title “All In the Timing.” Mr. Ives’s plays all feature quirky premises.

“Sure Thing” offers a unique take on the courting ritual. A man and woman meet in a cafe and try to make a connection. Despite some awkward moments and embarrassing missteps, they are luckily given chance after chance to get it right, thanks to an interesting dramatic device.

The play riffs on the the differences between the sexes and the challenges of approaching a stranger, whatever one’s intentions. There are some very funny lines, along with some jabs at stereotypical banter.

Mr. Stark, who has acted in and directed work for ITW for many years, will star in the short play along with Linda Comstock. The two are both members of the Peter H. Luce Play Readers group that meets weekly at the Tisbury Senior Center. Recently, the group presented four of David Ives’s short plays, including “Sure Thing” at the Vineyard Haven and Chilmark Public libraries. The reception of that program encouraged Mr. Stark to choose the first play from “All In the Timing” (and the one that has a line that gives that series its title) for the One Act Festival.

“The play reminds me a great deal of the cartoon work of our wonderful Island treasure, Jules Feiffer,” Mr. Stark said. “There’s a serious underpinning to everything that seems light or silly. It’s very wacky, very typical of David Ives, but it has a certain poignancy. I think light stuff works well when there’s some substance to it. It’s definitely light and very funny, but underneath the lightness is real angst.These are clearly two unattached, lonely people wary of making a connection.

“I like two-character plays. But they don’t usually work. There’s no dramatic tension. In this particular play, there’s dramatic tension right from the get go.”

Lee Fierro, former ITW artistic director and veteran actress and director, has selected something a little meatier for the festival. “The Old Lady Shows Her Medals” is a one act by J.M. Barrie, the Scottish author and dramatist best known today as the creator of Peter Pan. Barrie wrote many short stories and novels during his lifetime but was recognized most in his day for his plays.

The play that Ms. Fierro is directing is a comedy/drama set in London during WWI. It starts off poking fun at a group of London charwomen and their competitive natures and turns into a sentimental, at times sad, drama of a lonely old woman. The author, in classic tongue-in-cheek style, caricatures his protagonist and her circle of friends in a wry, humorous way. Enter a male character, who creates a dilemma for the hostess of an informal tea party. From there, the play takes a very different, almost dark direction, while maintaining the humor. It’s a lovely, bittersweet story that is bound to leave the audience smiling as they walk out the door.

“It combines some aspects that always appeal to me,” Ms. Fierro said. “A combination of warm humor and pathos – or heart feeling.”

The play stars Annie Palches, a longtime friend of Ms. Fierro. “She has played some leads for me, but she hasn’t acted in a while,” Ms. Fierro said. “She’s incredible. I am delighted to be reuniting with her as an actor. I like the way she works. This part is very good for her.”

Rounding out the cast are ITW president Stephanie Burke; Jesse Seward, Molly Chvatal, and Felicity Russell, who appeared recently in the “The Wizard of Oz;” plus ITW newcomer Gaston Vadasz.

Ms. Fierro notes that presenting one act plays offers more community members the chance to get involved. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for new actors of whatever age to get a little bit more experience before they tackle a full length play. It gives a number of people an opportunity to get up on stage and not have as many lines to learn. People are awfully busy these days. There much more open to being in a one act.”

And, she added, “The audience seems to really love the one acts. They really enjoy seeing that variety. I just think the entire evening is fun. You come in laughing, you go out crying.”

ITW One Act Play Festival, Katharine Cornell Theatre, Vineyard Haven, Fridays and Saturdays, March 21, 22, 28, 29, 7:30 pm; Sundays, March 23 and 30, 4 pm. $15. For more information, visit itwmv.org.

A party at the PA Club will raise funds for Taggart Young's Maine home, which burnt down in December. — Photo Courtesy of Young Family

Island native Taggart Young lost the house in Maine, which he shared with his girlfriend, in a devastating fire this past December 14. This Friday, March 14, starting at 6 pm, Mr. Young’s family is hosting a fundraising party at the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs to help them raise money to rebuild. The party features a plethora of musicians, food, and silent and live auction for dozens of items including art, jewelry, and gift certificates. For more information, call 239-919-6138.

— File Photo by Meg Higgins

A fundraising party at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown on March 4 will benefit the Guest family of Edgartown, who is working to help their daughter Jillian through difficult medical circumstances.

According to the family’s website, guestfamilyhelp.com, Jillian, 24, was born premature. She has cerebral palsy and is blind, and is currently rehabilitating a broken femur. Though now living at home, her family is working with an agency so that she can live a more independent life.

The Mardi Gras Celebration party is from 6 to 11 pm, and features a silent auction, costume contest, music by Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, and light appetizers. Tickets are $25. For more information, visit guestfamilyhelp.com.

The M.V. Film Center is hosting an Oscar night party. — File Photo by Susan Safford

Celebrate the 86th Academy Awards with friends and film lovers this Sunday, March 2, at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center in Vineyard Haven.

Walk the red carpet, enjoy a buffet dinner and live music by Jeremy Berlin, have your photo taken in a photo booth holding a real Oscar, and take part in a ballot contest. Doors open at 6:45 pm, and tickets are $40; $35 for M.V. Film Society members.

For more information and tickets, visit mvfilmsociety.com.

Dancing frees the body and the mind at "Group Dance Group" each Thursday night. — Photo by Jennifer Coito, Stella

The room is dimly lit — almost completely dark but for some ambient brightness from the streetlights outside. The music is pulsating, but not heavy or jarring. A small group of sock-footed women are moving to the music — each seemingly in her own world but also picking up on the energy of the room. Each dancer has her own style, but all are energetic, not merely swaying back and forth, but really exerting themselves. It’s Thursday evening and the group has gathered to participate in “Group Dance Group,” a new event hosted by Rebecca Brown and Noavakay Knight.

Noavakay Knight, left, and Rebecca Brown, hostesses of "Group Dance Group."
Noavakay Knight, left, and Rebecca Brown, hostesses of “Group Dance Group.”

The weekly event, which was launched in January, is focused on freestyle dance that is as much about having fun and letting loose as it is about enjoying a meditative and aerobic experience. “It’s focused on health,” said Ms. Brown, who was leading the group on this particular Thursday. “It’s morphed into meditation as well.”

As Ms. Brown describes it, dancing in its purest form — distanced from the attitude, distractions, and self-consciousness of a club experience — lends itself to freeing the body and the mind. “I have a couple of friends who would say they can’t dance when they’re not drunk,” she said. “Why can’t music be a bridge into having that meditative silence that happens when you’re not thinking? I just find that dancing is a really natural, easy way to ‘cheat’ at meditation without drugs or alcohol.”

The evening starts out with group warmup time and a short reading from a spiritually related source. Shifting colorful images are projected on the walls to add to the pulsing, hypnotic atmosphere. There’s no instruction or even suggestions from the hosts to focus on a mind/body type experience. The group’s only rules: no shoes, no talking, no structure, set the stage.

“We try not to talk at all so as not to break concentration,” said Ms. Knight. “It’s all about meditation dance. You’re going into yourself, creating whatever it is you’re creating. Either you’re standing still and creating, or you’re moving and creating.”

The beauty of the experience is that there’s really no one paying attention to what the others are doing, and no jockeying for personal space. This non-judgmental atmosphere lends itself to letting go of inhibitions and allowing oneself to experiment with different movements while attaining a trance-like state.

The digital projections are provided by Ms. Knight. She also recently purchased a more powerful speaker and is hoping to bring a disco ball into the mix. Of the visuals, she said: “it really helps to create the kind of vibe to relax and go with it and enjoy yourself.”

The playlist is put together by Ms. Brown, who is a fan of electronic dance club music. “It’s not trendy,” she said. “It’s mostly dubstep with a heavy emphasis on trap (a form of electronic hiphop/rap music) that  really helps to feel the music because there’s so much bass in it.” The playlist switches around from heavy, pulsing beats to tunes with more of an ’80s electronica feel. “The music fills the quietness inside,” said Ms. Brown. “The undertone of the whole experience is to be at one with yourself.”

After the freestyle dance, there might be some structured exercise or something a little more experimental. “Then we do something totally different,” said Ms. Knight. “We do some abs or dance to Youtube videos that have choreography attached to them. It makes it a little more grounded. It’s nice to be able to do free dance, but it helps build connections to learn movements that you wouldn’t necessarily do on your own.”

Ms. Knight is responsible for launching the group. She wanted to find something to replace the hiphop class she had attended the previous winter but was no longer available. (Since then, another hiphop class has begun at Rise). She also wanted to fill a void on the Vineyard.  “I just really love to dance,” Ms. Knight said. “You don’t get much opportunity, especially here in the winter. You don’t have to stay out late at night drinking to have this wonderful experience of just dancing.”

Ms. Knight created a “Group Dance Group” Facebook page just to see who else might be interested. Through that listing, she met Ms. Brown, and they proved to be perfect partners for the experiment. “She found a space; I had the contact list,” said Ms. Knight.

The first event took place at the Anchors in Edgartown. Then, the group moved to the studio at Yoga Haven before settling in the dojo space at Decca. It’s a large room with a lot more space than either of the group’s previous venues. “It has really great energy,” said Ms. Knight. “It reminds me of being in high school and all the bands used to play there.”

The group is evolving as things progress. There are a few regulars, but new people show up each time. They are mostly women, but according to Ms. Knight, there’s always at least one guy. The age range has been from 20s to 40s, but the co-founders hope to attract some older people as well as high schoolers.

The dynamics of the group will most likely influence future additions and adjustments to the program. “We’ve just been fine-tuning it,” said Ms. Knight. “We’ve never done this before. People really enjoy that part of it. We don’t know what we’re doing, so it’s okay for them to not know what they’re doing.”

This open-minded attitude really adds to the experience. Judging by the crowd on a recent Thursday night, everyone seemed to be completely comfortable and finding their own groove.

With “Group Dance Group,” there’s no wrong or right, no better or fitter or more coordinated. It’s all about moving and getting what you want out of the experience. It’s the perfect way to give yourself a psychic boost on a cold dark winter’s night.

“Group Dance Group” meets every Thursday, 6:30-–8 pm, at Decca on Peacegate Way, Vineyard Haven. $7 admission goes toward renting the space.

At Pecha Kucha Night, presenters show 20 images for 20 seconds each. Before the last Pecha Kuch Night, M.V. Museum assistant curator Anna Carringer made a brief introduction and screened a short video. — File Photo by Gwyn McAllister

What began in Japan in the early 2000’s as a networking event has turned into a celebration of the arts at Edgartown’s Harbor View Hotel. “PechaKucha Night” which draws its name from the Japanese term for “chit chat,” will return to the Harbor View on Friday, February 21 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. Presentations follow the same simple format: 20 images are shown for 20 seconds each. According to a press release from the hotel, “it’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.” The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required only for presenters. For more information, call Jessica at 508-627-4441, ext. 117, or e-mail jbarker@mvmuseum.org.

Shakespeare for the Masses presents free, fun, and shortened versions of the Bard's plays. Pictured is Billy Meleady and Brooke Hardman. — Photo by Nicole Galland

The Vineyard Playhouse presents another installment of Shakespeare for the Masses, organized and edited by Chelsea McCarthy and Nicole Galland and performed by a group of actors. There are two shows scheduled: Saturday, Feb. 15, at 7 pm, and Sunday, Feb. 16, at 2 pm, both at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven.

The only Shakespeare play ever banned by a democratic government, according to a press release, “Coriolanus” is a “startlingly contemporary tale about political intrigue, political spin doctors, political treachery…and, as with any story involving proto-fascism, the importance of motherhood,” the press release continued. Admission is free. For more information, call 508-693-6450 or visit vineyardplayhouse.org.