Chadwick Stokes is perched on his back porch on West Chop, strumming a guitar. He’s sporting a vintage T-shirt advocating nuclear disarmament. The back reads, “The Future Is In Our Hands.” 

For the musician, the phrase isn’t just a tidy T-shirt platitude. It’s also the essence of 1972, his original rock opera set for a two-show run on the Island, taking place at Union Chapel on July 12 and the Old Whaling Church on July 13.

Mr. Stokes is a longtime seasonal resident of Vineyard Haven, and the frontman of Boston-based bands Dispatch and State Radio. In 2019, he released a politically-driven folk-rock project Chadwick Stokes and the Pintos.

His new rock opera follows Hannah, a young woman in an abusive relationship who finds herself pregnant. To escape the violence of her partner and seek access to abortion, she hops a train to Chicago — a detail inspired by Mr. Stokes’s train-hopping days of his youth.

Mr. Stokes has a seasonal home in Vineyard Haven. — Jeanna Shepard

The dream of creating a rock opera has been a long time coming. Mr. Stokes draws inspiration from the lyrical storytelling of Jesus Christ Superstar, Hadestown and Tommy.

“I’ve always been interested in writing stories within songs and always wanted to expand that... but never had the opportunity,” he said.

The current iteration of the show is a work-in-progress, with songs still being tweaked, shuffled or newly written ahead of next week’s performances. In the long term, he’s imagining how best to present the work for an album format and translate it to a large-scale theatrical production.

To put on the show, Mr. Stokes has enlisted the help of friends and family, including his wife and his brother. He enjoys working with a cast that, despite their immense talent, are not all career musicians. They include coffee shop managers, farmers and music therapists.

“We’re all on that mission to tell the story the best we can,” he said.

His wife, Sybil Gallagher, is his “main confidant” and artistic collaborator. She painted the art for the production’s debut in Boston, and she’s the person he looks to when trying to fix a plot hole or find a bridge between storylines.

Ms. Gallagher also takes the lead in running Calling All Crows, the couple’s advocacy organization aimed at mobilizing music fans. Its most recent campaign champions reproductive rights and Generation Z as democratic changemakers.

“It’s a tangible way for us to be involved ourselves and engage people,” Ms. Gallagher said. “The marrying of our new campaign and this rock opera is so timely.”

Mr. Stokes has great affection for the Vineyard, as both a home base and an artistic haven. He grew up spending summers in West Chop with his family and met his wife while they were working as counselors at Camp Jabberwocky. They spend summers on the Island with their children and sought refuge here during the pandemic, fighting the cold in their un-winterized home.

The couple have a history of advocating for reproductive rights on the Vineyard. Until last year, the Island was classified as an “abortion desert” — a highly-populated community with no convenient abortion access. Medication abortions became available on the Island in July 2023. In-clinic abortions remain unavailable.

The opera draws inspiration from the lyrical storytelling of Jesus Christ Superstar, Hadestown and Tommy. — Jeanna Shepard

The pair spent years lobbying Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Mass General in Boston to make the case for abortions on the Island. They mobilized alongside friends for the cause, including medical professionals, but said they were shut down at every turn.

“They gave us the runaround,” Mr. Stokes said.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, the couple assembled a chorus of 100 women at Wise Owl Farm in Chilmark to perform an adapted version of Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down in protest.

The original vision of his rock opera saw protagonist Hannah train-hopping to donate part of her liver to her dying brother. When Roe v. Wade was overturned, Mr. Stokes decided the story needed to center around the continued struggle to access reproductive healthcare in America.

“That really changed things,” he said of the Roe v. Wade decision. “It gave it a more powerful mission.”

For Mr. Stokes, making music is an act of resistance. Much of his discography wrestles openly with injustice and corruption. He used Dispatch’s platform to raise money for Zimbabwean youth, and State Radio once joined Rage Against the Machine to perform in protest of the Iraq War. 

He first discovered music could be political by listening to the rock opera Hair in his youth.

“Love is beautiful but I was like, there’s plenty of love songs. I want to write songs that are about something,” he said.

His aim with 1972 is to engage people about reproductive rights, including politicians. He’ll be taking the opera to Chicago in August for the Democratic National Convention.

Ms. Gallagher said that the reproductive rights movement relies on the solidarity of men with platforms, now more than ever.

“The most important thing for us to convey is that men cannot stay silent anymore,” she said. “It is no longer working for men to stand on the sidelines of this issue. This is too modern of an age for women to be having their rights stripped away like this.”