Professional Nonprofit Theater on Martha's Vineyard
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Virtual poetry at the Playhouse

by Connie Berry, The MV Times

April is National Poetry Month, and for all those who miss Poetry and PIe Wednesdays at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, don’t fret because you can now get your poetry fix virtually. MJ Bruder Munafo and the stalwart staff at the Playhouse have put together a selection of recorded poetry readings by Susan Puciul, Liz Pozen, Laura Roosevelt, Lloyd Schwartz, Rose Styron, Donald Nitchie, and the host of Poetry and Pie, Arnie Reisman, the group that would’ve been featured live at the March 31 Poetry and Pie event. 

MV Poet Laureate emeritus Reisman typically organizes readings by Island poets monthly on Wednesday nights from November through April. The Playhouse announced that it was canceling its 2020 summer season in a statement released on April 9: 

“In this time of Covid-19, social distancing and uncertainty, the Board of Directors of Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse and Artistic & Executive Director, MJ Bruder Munafo, have decided to cancel our 2020 summer season. Living through the new normal, we are instead exploring ways to entertain, educate and inspire through creative ideas online.”

Bruder Munafo said the virtual poetry reading idea came about as they had to cancel the last Poetry and Pie event in the series. 

“I’ve been posting a poem a day (mostly) on the Playhouse Facebook page, and a couple on the MV Times Social Network page,” she wrote in an email. “There are seven poets altogether, so two more to go. I also have one video recording I made of Lee McCormack in December 2019 that will be added to our site at some point.”

All of the poet readings are posted on the Playhouse website and they’ll be up all month, then archived and still accessible, Bruder Munafo wrote. 

Reisman says the Playhouse is working to keep connected to the community, like many other Island organizations. 

“The Playhouse, like so many other community resources on this Island, decided to take advantage of the internet, our only platform for communication and performance at this time, not counting shouting at one another while keeping a proper social distance,” he wrote in an email. “So while the virus has turned us into a video society, we opted to celebrate April as Poetry Month by having poets reading from our Playhouse website. During this time I think it’s important to find any reason to celebrate, to keep up our spirits and keep producing art and entertainment. It’s the least we can do.” 

Even though the stage at the Playhouse is currently darkened, staff will continue to add virtual events to keep the community entertained. Next up is a celebration of William Shakespeare’s April 23 birthday. Be sure to visit mvplayhouse.org regularly so you don’t miss anything, even from inside your own home. 

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