The Vineyard Arts Project (VAP) hosts two New York City–based arts organizations in the coming weeks. Closing out its 2018 season, the dance/theater residency will present work by artists from New York’s famed Public Theater and a performance by the Black Iris Project — a ballet collaborative and education vehicle.
The Public Theater has partnered with the Vineyard Arts Project for the past six years. A variety of writers and composers have spent time at the VAP campus developing new work and then presenting either excerpts or readings at the end of their residency.
This year, the team of Craig Carnelia (music and lyrics) and Joe Tracz (book) are at the VAP, along with Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis (director) working on a new musical titled “Poster Boy.” On Saturday, August 25, Vineyard audiences will have a chance to see a sneak peek of the show. “Oskar Eustis is such an incredible force in the theater community in New York, and a brilliant mind,” says VAP founder and director Ashley Melone. “It’s such an honor for me to have him here.”
A press release for the event describes the show. “’Poster Boy’ is based on the story of Tyler Clementi, a college student who was a victim of cyberbullying and committed suicide in 2010. In the piece we follow the group of gay men online who investigate the meaning behind the death, on the way discovering the power of their connections and the hope that lives on the other side of tragedy.
Earlier this summer, the VAP presented another new musical — this one based on Andrew Solomon’s nonfiction book, “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity.” Both musicals tackled serious issues. “I’m always interested in issue-based work,” says Melone.
“I think the musical form doesn’t have to be just light, entertainment-focused work. I think it can get into deep issues.”
The finale of the VAP season, which has been devoted primarily to dance this year, will be a performance by New York’s Black Iris Project, a collaborative that creates new, relevant classical ballet works that celebrate diversity and black history.
Among the works in the troupe’s repertoire are “Madiba,” a piece about Nelson Mandela, “Black Iris,” a story about the sacrifices and the journey of black women in America, and “Brown Baby,” inspired by the true story of black model Beatrice Reynolds Cox.
Black Iris Project was founded by Jeremy McQueen, 2013 Joffrey Ballet’s Choreographers of Color Award winner, and features a cast of predominantly black dancers from world-class ballet companies.
For over a decade, the Vineyard Arts Project has housed numerous theater and dance groups for residencies followed by public performances. Many of the works developed at the compound have gone on to major venues in New York City and elsewhere, and won Obies and other prestigious awards.
The Public Theater will present excerpts from “Poster Boy” on Saturday, August 25, from 7 to 8 pm. The Black Iris Project will present a developmental showing on Saturday, Sept. 1, from 7 to 8 pm. The Vineyard Arts Project is located at 215 Upper Main St., Edgartown. Tickets (pay what you will) are available at vineyardarts.org.