The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse is back in full swing this year, with a lineup of productions on both the Playhouse stage in Vineyard Haven and the outdoor Amphitheater on State Road. Following two preseason events — one a reading of a new play set in Oak Bluffs, the other a solo show that was previously presented at New York City’s Irish Repertory Theatre — the summer season will include four full productions on the Patricia Neal Stage, and the continuation of the Playhouse’s longtime series of Shakespeare plays presented al fresco in the Tisbury Amphitheater.
First up, running through July 15, will be the East Coast premiere of a new play by Mona Mansour with the enigmatic title “We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War.” Mansour, a playwright of Middle Eastern descent, is a member of New York City’s prestigious Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, who often writes about the Middle East. A press release says of the play, “With humor and compassion, an Arab American woman and her nephew, an Army soldier, debate the morality of going to war while trying to navigate the currents of the Pacific. Adventurous theater, exploring the murky waters of family, identity, and politics.”
Describing “We Swim,” a San Francisco Chronicle review posits the question, “Can American theater really still beget a political play that represents opposing sides fairly, in good faith, such that audience members of different political stripes might all recognize themselves in the characters?” and answers that question with a resounding affirmative, further calling the play “an understated but insistent affirmative [that] wholly earns that hopeful outlook — even in our divisive, cynical times.”
Next will be a weekend-long run (July 19 to 22) of a play titled, “To My White Friends Who Know Me,” described on the Playhouse website as “a frank, funny, enlightening play that thoughtfully examines race relations through the lens of cross-racial friendships and their untapped benefits.”
From July 26 through August 5, the Playhouse will present “To Fall in Love,” synopsized on the Playhouse website, “After their marriage is splintered by tragedy, a couple comes together for one night in the hopes of finding something worth saving.” The production will mark the New England premiere of a work developed at Theater Lab at Florida Atlantic University.
The summer season concludes with an exciting offering titled “Outcasts: The Lepers of Penikese Island,” running August 11 to 26. The devised piece, written and directed by Playhouse veteran Scott Barrow, is based on poems by Eva Rifka, and tells the forgotten story of Hansen’s disease patients quarantined to the Elizabeth Island leprosarium against their will, and those who cared for them.
Over at the outdoor Amphitheater, located on a bucolic setting just above the Tisbury Waterworks building on the shores of Lake Tashmoo, audiences will be treated to a two-day production of “The Campaign that Failed,” which will run June 23 and 24. It’s a theatrical reimagining of Mark Twain’s short story, followed by another of the Playhouse’s fun, action-filled productions of the plays of William Shakespeare. This time around, a large cast will romp through “Twelfth Night” from July 12 to August 5, in a production full of music, mayhem, and mistaken identities. As always, feel free to bring a picnic and the entire family for a fun evening outdoors in a picturesque setting.
For more information on the Playhouse and its productions, visit mvplayhouse.org.