Professional Nonprofit Theater on Martha's Vineyard
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Playhouse Reprises Crumbs from the Table of Joy

by Louisa Hufstader, Vineyard Gazette

The cast and director of a powerful Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse production from 2016 are reuniting for a virtual staged reading of the play, Crumbs from the Table of Joy by Lynn Nottage, August 12 at 7 p.m. online. “We really had big audiences for it,” playhouse executive and artistic director MJ Bruder Munafo recalled of the show, an early work by the first and only woman to twice win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

“Lynn Nottage—she is my favorite living playwright,” said Abigail Solomon, who will reprise her role as a Gerte, a German woman who marries into a Black family, the Crumps, in New York after World War II.

Ms. Solomon is also a lifelong seasonal Chilmark resident and New York stage producer whose Rosalind Productions is co-producing Wednesday’s virtual staged reading with the playhouse.

The reading will once again be directed by Adrienne Williams, and the cast will include Islander Danielle Hopkins, who as a high schooler in 2016 played the role of the youngest Crump daughter. Ms. Hopkins returns to the role as a college undergraduate.

Crumbs from the Table of Joy is a memory play about the Crumps’ move from Florida to Brooklyn, set in the mid-century milieu of McCarthyism and racial prejudice.

“It’s about a family wrestling with racism in America,” said Ms. Solomon. “More people have woken up to how relevant it is.”

The Black Lives Matter movement spurred Ms. Solomon to suggest reuniting the cast for a fund-raising event, she said. Proceeds from the online reading, minus minimal production costs and payments, will benefit the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Wednesday’s live performance will be recorded and made available for viewing August 13 through August 15, Ms. Bruder Munafo said.

While the playhouse building remains closed to the public, its lobby art space has expanded on the internet. Known for its absorbing one-artist shows, the playhouse now offers multiple online galleries featuring works by a collection of Island artists such as Allen Whiting, Cindy Kane, Rez Williams and Kate Feiffer.

“The idea was that each artist was going to show one piece of work that they’ve selected, and if it sells they can put another in [its place],” Ms. Bruder Munafo said.

As of early August, patrons who have found their way to the first two online galleries had purchased five pieces—two by Ms. Kane, Ms. Bruder Munafo said. “I think people like buying art at the playhouse if they can because it supports the artist and the playhouse,” she said. The third gallery, including a work by pointillist Jack Ryan, will open online in mid-August, Ms. Bruder Munafo said. “Then all three groups will stay in the virtual gallery until we open the live gallery again, which we might do in the fall.” The playhouse is continuing its single-artist focus as well, by showing artwork in the windows of its historic home on Church street in Vineyard Haven.

Masks is a series of prints by Gretchen Baer, whose artwork inaugurated the lobby art space when the playhouse reopened following its 2011-2014 renovation, Ms. Bruder Munafo said.

Ms. Baer’s colorful posters, imploring “Wear a Mask,” are also posted on the playhouse website, along with Basia Jaworska’s print Stand Against Racism.

Partial proceeds from Ms. Jaworska’s print will benefit the NAACP bail fund, according to the website, mvplayhouse.org.

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