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the open book


The Open Book, New York's oldest professional readers theatre ensemble, was founded in and has been continuously operating since 1975. The company was formed to develop a streamlined alternative to America's overproduced traditional theatre. Our mission is to present the best of all worlds of literature -- prose, poetry, drama, even nonfiction -- to our culturally diverse tri-state audience, with emphasis on new under-appreciated literature of excellence that is likely to be bypassed by traditional theatre companies.

The Open Book's performing style combines recognized readers theatre methods (often called "theatre of the mind") with minimalist staging concepts variously expressed by Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Jerzy Grotowski, Keith Johnstone and Bernard Shaw, as well as dynamic rhythmic and phrasing techniques more commonly found in chamber theatre (what our artistic director Marvin Kaye calls "the Open Book effect.") The Open Book's presentational "living room" style consciously invokes the mythic power of language, with all its sonorities and connotations, to stimulate the imagination of the audience. One of The Open Book's patrons has described our productions as "Visual Radio."

The Open Book mission encompasses three primary communities we are committed to serve: 1) new and/​or underutilized writing talent throughout the nation; 2) a tri-state general theatre audience with substantial discounts for the elderly and for students, and 3) economically disadvantaged Manhattan schools.

For nine years, The Open Book recognized and promoted writing talent nationally through the annual theatre playwrighting competition it cosponsors with The Stage & Screen division of Doubleday Book and Music Clubs. A series of winning scripts were produced in New York by The Open Book, and published and distributed by Doubleday. A strong response was realized during the competition's first four years, with approximately 450 entries submitted by playwrights in 40 states.

The Open Book serves audiences throughout the New York/​New Jersey/​Connecticut region, and manifests a special responsibility to residents of New York's East Side, where our company is based, by making our growing repertoire of new and worthwhile literature available, accessible and affordable. We offer better than 50% discounts to senior citizens, students and teachers and complimentary admission to U. S. service personnel.


T H I R T Y – F I V E Y E A R S O F U N I Q U E T H E A T R E

1975: THE OPEN BOOK -- New York's oldest readers theatre ensemble is created by a team of professional actors, educators and writers.

1976: A series of biannual performances at Lincoln Center begin with THE OPEN BOOK's "signature piece," Poetry in Motion.

1980: THE OPEN BOOK becomes a tax-free nonprofit charitable institution and begins an authors reading series, "Writers On Stage," funded by Poets & Writers, Inc. In the same year, THE OPEN BOOK performs at the Folger
Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D. C., and also at Symphony Space.

1990: THE OPEN BOOK moves to the Amsterdam Room, 171 West 85th Street, and
receives New York State Arts Council funding for "Six Women in Search of
Liberation." In the same year, the company establishes the Jean Paiva
Memorial Fund for new writers, in memory of its late PR director. The
company remains at the Amsterdam Room for eight years, producing
approximately fifty Equity showcases in that time.

1994: THE OPEN BOOK establishes a separate educational outreach division and curriculum, Growing A Story: A Theatrical Exploration of Imagination for Literacy Enrichment at P. S. 128, Manhattan, with funding from The Astor Foundation, the J&L Dreyfus Foundation, and the NYC Board of Education.

1994: THE OPEN BOOK begins an annual national playwrighting competition
cosponsored by Doubleday's Stage & Screen Book Club. The Stage & Screen
Book Club publishes the winning scripts in anthologies edited by Marvin
Kaye. THE OPEN BOOK produces the first winning scripts at the Amsterdam
Room and at The Miranda Theatre, by invitation of sponsor Mario Fratti,
playwright and owner of the Miranda. Contest judges include Carol Higgins
Clark, Prof. Louis Fantasia, John Jakes, Marvin Kaye, Rex Robbins, Mary
Stuart and Prof. Judy E. Yordon.

1996: THE OPEN BOOK begins a series of national readers theatre
workshop/​conferences at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford,
Connecticut, with the sponsorship of George C. White, founder and
President of the O'Neill Center.

1998: THE OPEN BOOK appears for seventeen weeks at the Jan Hus Playhouse,
producing two off-Broadway shows, CHARLATAN, A Memoir of Sergei Diaghilev
written by and starring four-time Tony nominee Tony Tanner, and "The
Hoboken Chicken Emergency", an a cappella musical based on the book by
author and National Public Radio personality Daniel Pinkwater.

1999: THE OPEN BOOK produces new plays at The Producers Club and the 78th Street Theatre Lab, as well as a staged reading of a new Sherlock Holmes musical.

2001: THE OPEN BOOK continues producing national competition winners at the 78th Street Theatre Lab, and enters negotiations to produce several off-Broadway shows in 2003.

2003: THE OPEN BOOK begins a 12-year annual run of "The Last Christmas of Ebenezer Scrooge," acclaimed by "The New York Times."

2006: THE OPEN BOOK produces the critically-acclaimed drama, "Strings" by Carole Bugge', starring Keir Dullea, Mia Dillon, and Warren Kelley.

2007: THE OPEN BOOK produces two evenings of ghost stories by British actor Robert Lloyd Parry.

2008: THE OPEN BOOK produces "Mrs. Gaskell's Lover" at the 78th Street Theatre Lab.

2010: THE OPEN BOOK produces "Mister Jack," a Don Juan interactive comedy by charter member Marvin Kaye.