Every year the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse gives audiences a glimpse of new plays with their Monday Night Special series. The reading series features work by a variety of playwrights from around the country. This year, the Playhouse will offer five readings of plays that touch on a wide range of subjects and genres from comedy to issue plays.
Starting off the reading series on July 1 will be “Sid & Howard” by Marc Kirkeby of Brooklyn, N.Y. The play centers on an imagined friendship between the writers H.P. Lovecraft and S.J. Perelman. The two could not have been more different, yet it’s very possible that the men did know each other since they both lived in Providence, R.I., during the same time period. Perelman is best known for the humorous short pieces that he wrote for the New Yorker. Lovecraft wrote horror and fantasy stories. Jenny Allen, curator of the Monday Night Special series, describes the play as “a work of fiction that makes free use of the historical record,” and she notes that both characters are outsiders, a fact that accounts for their friendship in the play.
The second reading, on July 22, “The Broken Closet” by Maggie McDonald Condon, deals with a family reacting to the death of a young woman by heroin overdose. The play, set during the course of one day, touches on “the guilt and grief and anguish that this family experiences,” according to Allen.
The middle play of the series, “Drive” on July 29, was written by New York City based playwright Deborah Yarchun, who has had plays produced in NYC and numerous theaters throughout the country. The drama involves a group of long haul truckers who have recently found themselves out of work, replaced by self-driving vehicles. According to the playwright’s website, “Drive explores our collective fears surrounding the next stage of automation and what happens when individuals in a country, where we’re so defined by our work, are forced to reevaluate what drives them.”
The penultimate reading — “Mona/Lina” by J.B. Miller on August 19 — centers around a reclusive middle-aged woman, the daughter of a notorious artist, who is visited by a curator planning a retrospective of her father’s work. Allen says that the play explores “the collateral damage that brilliant artists can inflict when they forget their boundaries,” and she describes “Mona/Lina” as “full of humor and wit.”
The season will conclude with a reading of a new work by Catholic priest and CNN commentator, Father Edward L. Beck, whose play “Sweetened Water” was produced by the Playhouse in 2015. Beck’s latest play “Ungodly Pursuit” read on August 26, concerns a priest who is under investigation after he visits a gay bar for a friend’s birthday celebration. A young man from the priest’s past resurfaces in his life and provides further complications.
All Monday Night Specials begin at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $35, and can be purchased in advance at mvplayhouse.org.