Martha's Vineyard Playhouse
We believe that theater has the power to transform lives. We see it all the time, starting with the very young. Children who participate in theater… learn to express themselves, learn the value working cooperatively with others, and grow in self-confidence.
Adults who act in or simply enjoy plays are entertained or provoked, challenged or transported to places they can only dream of. And when, in the quiet darkness, free from outside distractions, we watch the fictional lives of others unfold on stage, it alters the way we think and feel about our own lives.
That is why we committed to rejuvenating this beautiful house, why we seek to produce and present top-notch, professional productions showcasing the work of the finest playwrights actors, and directors, why we run year-round theatrical programs for children and adults and why we want to do even more.
We have a vision for our future. It involves acquiring housing for visiting actors and a permanent home for building and storing sets, props, and costumes. We want to offer acting and movement lessons for all who are interested. We intend to create an operating budget and endowment that will secure our operation for years after most of us are gone. That’s how valuable we believe this playhouse is to all the communities on Martha’s Vineyard. We hope you will join us in this mission.
How We Carry Out Our Mission
The Playhouse operates year-round, presenting a wide selection of contemporary and classic plays; nurturing and developing new plays through staged readings, professional workshops and world premieres; and producing many special plays, musical and other types of events on our intimate Patricia Neal Stage in our historic theater in downtown Vineyard Haven.
Each summer season we present vibrant classical and Shakespeare productions and highly imaginative original plays for children outdoors in the Tisbury Amphitheater. We also offer innovative educational programs all year long for children, both in the theater (including a summer camp) and in the elementary schools.
History of the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse
The historic Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse was built in 1833 on pasture land donated by Captain William Daggett. The building was originally constructed for $2,000 and was dedicated on July 11, 1833 as a Methodist Meeting House and used as such until 1845.
The Town of Tisbury held town meetings here between the years of 1852-1854. In 1855, the building was bought for use as a public meeting house and named Capawock Hall. At this time, the structure was raised from one to two stories with a market on the first floor. The first Episcopal church service on Martha’s Vineyard was held here on December 24, 1862. The hall was utilized for weddings and community suppers.
In 1895, the Masons bought the Capawock Hall after losing their own building in Tisbury’s great fire of 1883. The building was purchased for “a considerable sum” and remodeled. A quote at that time said, “The interior is finished throughout with southern yellow pine bead board and (it) is one of the best suburban lodges in the state.”
The building was ued as a Masonic Lodge until 1982, when Eileen Wilson and Isabella McKamy founded the theater and it became home to the Vineyard Playhouse Company Inc., a small professional non-profit theater.
The Company purchased its home in March of 1993. Construction has begun and fundraising continues to completely renovate this historic building and grounds, so that the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse can continue its role as one of Tisbury’s cultural and architectural gems for future generations.