More than 40 people turned out Saturday afternoon for Covid Monologues MV, a group reading in the Martha’s Vineyard Museum courtyard by Islanders writing in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pianist Jeremy Berlin improvised on jazz standards as listeners arrived, some carrying chairs or blankets for socially distanced seating on the courtyard lawn.
“The pandemic topic has been rich,” said Moira Convey Silva, a writing teacher and one of the organizers of the event, as she greeted the audience.
A retired judge, a grief recovery counselor and several artists and teachers were among the 10 writers taking part in the program. Most were members of Ms. Silva’s memoir writing class.
Co-organizer Moira Silva — many of the readers attend Ms. Silva’s memoir writing class.
— Mark Alan Lovewell
Co-organizer and writer Jennifer Knight is a creativity coach whom Ms. Silva credits with the idea of presenting the monologues in public.
Saturday’s program began with Susan Arthur’s Recipe for a Pandemic, a darkly funny set of ingredients and instructions such as “Start by preparing savage glares… for those who are sporting their masks as chin diapers.”
Fae Kontje-Gibbs’s reading, titled Covid 19 2020—It’s Not a Rap, Yet, took a kaleidoscopic, sometimes rhyming spin through the past eight months.
Veronica Lundgren’s A Gift to Be Simple invoked Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous Serenity Prayer as a guide for weathering the uncertainties of the times.
In her monologue Am I the Only One, Martha (Marty) Weiss posed a series of increasingly pointed questions, including “Am I the only one who finds comfort in knowing I’m not the only one?”
Elle Lash, Christine Burke, Linda Pearce Prestley and Lynn Ditchfield also delivered expressive monologues, while Ed Merck gave a short talk titled Connecting the Dots: The Pandemic & Climate Change.
Co-organizer Jennifer Knight —another reading is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12.
— Mark Alan Lovewell
The audience answered each performance with hearty applause, while Ms. Silva carefully sanitized the lectern between monologues.
Saturday’s reading at the museum was the kickoff for a winter-long project to culminate next year in an online theatre production and a publication, Ms. Silva and Ms. Knight told the audience.
Island Theatre Workshop’s Kevin Ryan will work with the writers to bring Covid Monologues MV to the virtual stage, they said.
A second public reading is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12, and community members are encouraged to submit monologues of up to five minutes in length to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for consideration is Dec. 4.