Shakespeare potpourri at The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard


The Yard in Chilmark kicks off a new series, YardWORDS, on Saturday, June 30, with an event hosted by author Nicole Galland called Bard at the Yard.

Ms. Galland, author and co-producer of the The Vineyard Playhouse’s Shakespeare for the Masses series of staged readings, will present a handful of performances in which the works of Shakespeare are interpreted in interesting ways.

The new series is launched to expand upon The Yard’s programming beyond dance. The organization’s artistic director David White recently reached out to the new board president Laura Roosevelt to bring in writers, actors, musicians, and others to present programming, incorporating discussion as well as performance. The Yard has, for the past few years, made an effort to represent many of the performing arts and Ms. Roosevelt notes that she is working on introducing “people who are doing interesting things in the arts.”

This past March, Ms. Galland published her fourth book, “I, Iago,” which chronicles the life of the nefarious villain of Shakespeare’s “Othello.” Ms. Roosevelt tapped her friend and fellow writer for The Yard series after she attended a book talk with the author at the West Tisbury Library this past spring.

“She’s an incredibly polished public speaker,” says Ms. Roosevelt, who is herself a poet, freelance journalist, and photographer.

In the talk, Ms. Galland focused on ways in which Shakespeare has been interpreted to give it popular appeal. This has been her focus for the past few years with Shakespeare for the Masses, a series she created along with Chelsea McCarthy to make the work of the Bard more accessible to more people. She will expand upon that endeavor in her event at The Yard.

The first half of the evening will include a reading from, and a discussion of “I, Iago” by Ms. Galland.

Then she and her husband, actor Billy Meleady, will present a scene from “Othello.” Mr. Meleady will reprise his Shakespeare for the Masses portrayal of Iago and Ms. Galland will play the villain’s wife Emilia in a straightforward presentation of the famous “handkerchief scene.”

According to Ms. Galland, “The second half will be visceral examples of other ways that people have messed around with Shakespeare and adapted his work to make him more accessible.” Also an actor and director, Ms. Galland will tap her considerable innovational talents to present some diverse interpretations of works of the Bard. She has recruited Shakespeare for the Masses actors to present a scene from their production of “The Merchant of Venice,” which has been reinvented as a game show.

Scott Barrow, who uses inventive techniques to teach Shakespeare to children in the New York School system, will present a modern version of a scene from “Romeo and Juliet.” Ms. Galland will pair a scene from “The Taming of the Shrew” with a song from “Kiss Me Kate” – a Broadway musical based on the classic Shakespearean comedy.

The evening concludes with the rap version of “Othello” from the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s highly entertaining show, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

The program features actors Scott Barrow, Christopher Roberts, Rob Myers, Billy Meleady, Peter Stray, Jihan Ponti, Jacqueline Wigglesworth, and singer Alexandra London-Thompson.

Later this summer, the YardWORDS program will continue with an evening with Italian/African-American actor Giancarlo Esposito performing and talking about his involvement in films and his current role in the off-Broadway show “Storefront Church” by John Patrick Shanley.

A documentary filmmaking team is scheduled to participate in the series next summer. The programs will be presented on a contributions welcome basis.

Bard at the Yard, Saturday, June 30, at 8 pm, The Yard, Chilmark. 508-645-9662;