After a season in which the world first heard the song of a Scottish villager named Susan Boyle, perhaps it goes without saying that phenomenal talent can be found in out-of-the-way places.
Her dream debut revealed in a cliché-ridden television format something genuinely moving. Likewise on our own out-of-the-way Island — itself so chock-full of ill-informed clichés these days, that a reality television crew is filming here — it’s often the seemingly ordinary institutions that take our breath away with their very authenticity and creative reach.
It’s the scrappy Vineyard Playhouse, all winter welcoming children between its curtains, now preparing the boards for the work of cutting-edge playwrights performed by award-winning actors. It’s a New York choreographer who gets sassy at Built on Stilts, free for all, and it’s the dynamic collaborations between art forms that take root at The Yard, where the legacy of artistic experimentation prevails at the end of a dirt road in the woods. It’s in the daring of the Camp Jabberwocky play, wheelchairs be damned, and in the cadence of the drum circle that plays for those campers and the community on State Beach every week. It’s glimpsed on canvases in white-walled galleries and in the artist whose work is mounted on makeshift wire walls around the Tabernacle in the All-Island Art Show.
These summer moments build on, reviving even, the Vineyard’s longtime tradition of being a creative haven for writers, rather than celebrities.
Islanders, who live by the seasons, understand a lot about the creative process, for they know about waiting. The author Tim Winton, who lives by the sea on the other side of the world, compared writing a book to surfing, but he could likewise have been describing the year-round community’s rhythm: “Most of the time you’re waiting. And it’s quite pleasant, sitting in the water waiting. But you are expecting that the result of a storm over the horizon, in another time zone, usually days old, will radiate out in the form of waves. And eventually, when they show up, you turn around and ride that energy to the shore. It’s a lovely thing, feeling that momentum. If you’re lucky, it’s also about grace.”
This May weekend is when the momentum begins to pick up on these shores. So it is, too, at the Gazette, where this second section of the newspaper has grown like its community. For a while now these pages have been stretching our coverage, still elegant and thoughtfully put, to the ideas and the arts, to those people who express the issues of our time outside of meetings but rather in song, or movement, on the page or the stage. It reflects the Vineyard’s intellectual and playful pursuits, and it is practical, with listings of what’s happening when and where. It covers the food we eat, the environment we enjoy, the things we do as a community. The section is about the way we live here, and today we are giving it a new name: Vineyard Living.
The event listings, which you may use online to plan ahead, also appear within the paper in a new form, more convenient, we hope, for folding open and leaving on the end table for day-to-day additions to your plans.
Today Vineyard Living offers a taste of the summer ahead in books, dance, theatre and the visual arts. Summer previews of music, film and lectures will come, like the events themselves, later in the season.
Today Nicole Galland concludes her yearlong serialized novel, taking the arc of Moby Dick into contemporary Martha’s Vineyard; next week, with the epilogue, she’ll write about writing a novel by the week, something newspapers have done since Dickens. We’re lucky to have this ending, and a preview of so much yet to begin.
After the waiting, comes the energy, and the grace.
— Lauren Martin