Her schedule is never-ending. This summer she has managed to put together a full season of plays at the Vineyard Playhouse, direct two plays at the same time - Rounding Third and Romeo and Juliet - fill the Monday Night Special schedule with new works and famous names and still enjoy the beauty a Vineyard summer offers.
Yesterday she was running around making notes after the opening weekend of her new play Rounding Third by Richard Dresser and putting the finishing touches on the Monday Night Special - The Shore, a play read by Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, David Wiater and Maria Striar.
After 18 years at the Vineyard Playhouse M.J. Bruder Munafo makes this look easy. Ms. Munafo became artistic director of the playhouse in 1995, after eight years as managing director. For all her hard work and contribution to the Vineyard, Ms. Munafo will be honored this month with the prestigious Creative Living Award.
On August 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, Ms. Munafo will receive the Ruth J. Bogan and Ruth Redding Creative Living Award. A one-time honorarium from the Permanent Endowment Fund of Martha's Vineyard, the award goes each year to an Islander who exemplifies the spirit of the Vineyard and has made a contribution to Island life.
"One of the particular things we were impressed with M.J. was the program she does with kids in the school," said Deborah Hale, chairman of the Permanent Endowment Fund. "In addition to everything she has done with the Vineyard Playhouse she has touched a lot of kids lives," she said.
Ms. Hale said Ms. Munafo is able to pull kids out of their comfort zones, to do things they may never have done because they were shy, didn't think it was cool or just never had the opportunity.
Among other things, Ms. Munafo has guided Teenprov, the Vineyard Playhouse youth improvisational comedy group, for more than a decade. She also created the Fourth Grade Theatre Project, now in its 12th year, which aims for kids to do more than just memorize lines from a play. Fourth grade students write the play from scratch and then break into teams to produce the play. Guided by adults they make sets, do the lighting and all the other techincal aspects of producing a play. The project runs for eight weeks.
Ms. Munafo has also created a program called The Fabulists, a group of adults and teens who perform adaptations and new scripts for children. It includes a lot of improvisation and audience participation. Staged each Saturday morning in July and August at the Tashmoo Overlook Amphitheatre.
"What actors, professionals and amateurs have to realize is that the people who are watching the audition are rooting for them," Ms. Munafo told the Vineyard Gazette in an interview in 2003. "I'll speak for myself - I'm hoping that they're going to come up and be just fabulous."
Ms. Hale praised Ms. Munafo for both her artistic dedication and her community spirit
"She really has done something spectacular," Ms. Hale said. "One of the things that spoke to us was her creativity and her contribution to the Vineyard," she added.
The Creative Living Award was established in 1983 to recognize people who have preserved the values of the Vineyard and made the Island a better place to live. Past recipients of the award include Art Buchwald, David and Rosalee McCullough and Bill and Kathy Joyce Costanza. Last year's recipient was Augustus Ben David 2nd, director of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown.
Ms. Munafo will be the twenty-second recipient of the award.
The Permanent Endowment Fund is a community foundation, founded in 1982 to provide support to Island charitable and public institutions.