About Us

In the summer of 1996, three people met to discuss the possibility of creating a new theatrical performance group, one based totally on readers theatre methodology.  From that meeting, the Open Book Players was created.  Two of the three original founders of the group, Lucy Rioux and Cindy Turcotte, are still quite active with Lucy serving as the Artistic Director and Cindy as Treasurer (and frequent performer) for the Board of Directors.  The other founder, Bob Demers, who was primarily responsible for contacting the others, has since retired but played a pivotal role in the early years of Open Book Players’ existence.

The first challenge that this group needed to address was how to explain and demonstrate that “readers theatre” was not just some people “reading” from a script.  Much energy was devoted to explaining and demonstrating exactly what this theatrical style was and that it was truly “theatre”! From the beginnings of Readers Theatre as a recognized area of performance at the end of World War II, its very founders were dissatisfied with the name.  “Interpreter’s Theatre,” “Mind Theatre” and “Theatre of the Imagination” were just a few of the titles employed.  Even the spelling has had many variations such as Reader’s Theatre and Readers’ Theatre.  Open Book Players adopted the Readers Theatre Institute’s take on the spelling, “Readers Theatre” without the apostrophe to convey the sense of “Theatre for Readers”. The widely used definition of readers theatre was coined by Dr. William Adams, the founder of the Readers Theatre Institute out of San Diego, California.  According to Dr. Adams, “Readers theatre is a presentational performance based on the principles and techniques of oral interpretation and conventional theatre to present all kinds of literary and non-literary material in a choice of staging styles to entertain, instruct, and persuade.”  Both Lucy and Cindy attended workshops hosted by the Readers Theatre Institute and later became instructors in the organization, teaching in the states and abroad.

Readers Theatre is presentational in nature when compared to most traditional plays which are representational.  This indicates that the audience is expected to make “a willing suspension of disbelief,” and agrees to pretend that the enacted events are actually happening to the “real people” on the stage.  Readers Theatre, however, has a different basic approach.  Because the literature usually performed retains its narrative line, the audience is aware that the events are “presentational”, recalled from the past or described in the present.  The illusion of reality is substituted by the richness of the text that lets the audience enter into the characters’ inner as well as outer lives, having direct access to their feelings, thoughts, motivations and beliefs as presented through the author’s controlling will.  The narrators and techniques of Readers Theatre are utilized toward that end.

Although the company now performs almost exclusively at Johnson Hall in Gardiner (invited in 2002 to become its resident community theatre company), in the first six years of its existence, OBP performed at different venues including Cumston Hall in Monmouth and Jewett Hall Auditorium at the University of Maine in Augusta, among others.

In 1998, Open Book Players inaugurated a summer tour project bringing Readers Theatre and children’s literature to youngsters in schools and libraries from Lincoln to Scarborough and Waterford to Eastport.  By the end of their touring season in 2002, an estimated 3,000 Maine children in some 40 schools and libraries had been introduced to Readers Theatre, not only as a lively theatre art form, but as an exciting experience in the world of literature and reading.  The goal of these presentations was to provide both literary and theatrical enrichment to school-aged children in rural settings.

In 2005, Open Book Players also created a bi-annual event, Reading Rumpus, which featured the works of Maine children’s book authors and illustrators.  Their stories are scripted by OBP exactly as they are written, and performed on the stage bringing the stories “to life”. Working closely with Lynn Plourde, an acclaimed and prolific children’s book author whose works have also been performed by OBP, the group has featured the works of dozens of Maine authors and illustrators including Donn Fendler, Chris Van Dusen, Paul Janeczko, Ryan T. Higgins, Tamra Wight, Cynthia Lord, Kevin Hawkes, and many others.  The Reading Rumpus event for 2021 was postponed because of the Covid pandemic situation, but OBP is hoping to present it again in September of 2022.

This group opened its first season with a Halloween themed program which included “Dracula”, “Of Tea and Time”, and “Rinse the Blood Off My Toga”. Open Book Players averaged three shows per year during normal conditions, but in March of 2020, the pandemic ended that normal pattern.  They did return to live theatre in October of 2021 with three original scripts based on the “Adventures During Quarantine” followed by “Twain by the Tale” in November, bringing to 63 the number of different shows they have presented.  Although the group is taking a winter hiatus, they are planning their future 2022-2023 season starting in September. If anyone is interested in getting more information about Open Book Players, they can contact Lucy Rioux at lucyrioux@gmail.com or liking their Facebook page.   


Andy Tolman, Acting President

Cindy Turcotte, Treasurer

Linda Duarte, Secretary


Bob Giroux

Kathy Levasseur

Bob McIntire

Sherry Rossignol

Ginger Smith

Sarah Rossignol (Student Rep.)