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Open Book Theatre Company to Open Sixth Season Professional Theatre Downriver


After 18 months, Open Book Theatre will open its doors to audiences once again. 

Open Book Theatre Company to Open Sixth Season Professional Theatre Downriver

After 18 months, Open Book Theatre will open its doors to audiences once again.

"We kept producing theatre in other ways, but there's nothing like the energy of being in the room where it happens," said Artistic Director Krista Schafer Ewbank. "The lights, the sound, the all creates an experience that can't be beat. Studies show that audience's heartbeats sync during a live performance. You can't get that from streaming Netflix."

The theatre has planned a five show season of contemporary plays that will resonate with audiences, particularly after the events of the last two year. "I tend to be drawn to plays about what makes us human," Schafer Ewbank explained. "Our need for personal connection has never felt more pressing than after our collective trauma of this past season."

Open Book will open their season with This Random World: The Myth of Serendipity (Sept 10 - Oct 10, 2021), which was cancelled in 2020 after only 2 rehearsals. The play mines the comedy of missed connections, asking the serious question of how often we travel parallel paths through the world without noticing. The play will be directed by Krista Schafer Ewbank "This show is filled with delightful scenes chock full of humor and heartbreak, because the audience knows so much more than the characters do at many points. How might things be different if we actually talked - and listened - to each other? It's even more poignant after a year of truly missing out on connecting with other people in person!" From an ailing woman who plans one final trip, to her daughter planning one great escape and her son falling prey to a prank gone wrong, Steven Dietz's funny and intimate play explores the lives that may be happening just out of reach.

This holiday season we'll head back to Jane Austen's Regency England for The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley (Nov 19 - Dec 19, 2021). "The Wickhams lets us peak into the downstairs hub of the house," explains director Sarah Hawkins Rusk. A new maid and the unexpected arrival of the disgraced George Wickham make the holidays even more chaotic for household staff, who try to keep everything running smoothly for the Darcys and their guests. Fans of Pride and Prejudice, as well as OBTC's 2019 offering Miss Bennet, will love this show, although it can be enjoyed without any prior knowledge of the characters. "I am so excited to be back at Open Book with this show, which explores generosity, family and our obligations to one another," said Hawkins Rusk, who also helmed Miss Bennet. "Theatre is a fantastic way to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends, and this family-friendly show is the perfect experience to share with your loved ones."

In Marjorie Prime (January 21 - February 20, 2022), artificial intelligence is used to create companions to help patients, including 85 year old Marjorie whose "prime" looks like her late husband and is programmed to feed the story of her life back to her. The play raises the questions of what would we remember, and what would we forget, if given the chance? Director Wendy Katz Hiller is thrilled to have the show back on schedule after it was postponed in the summer of 2020. "Marjorie Prime tells the story of a family dealing with change and loss--something that rings even truer since our experiences of the past year and a half. How do we connect with others, and even our own memories and beliefs about ourselves? In this quirky, funny, touching, somewhat futuristic play, aging Marjorie both connects with and struggles against her family as they try to help her navigate the end of life. How will technology be used in the future to give us the companionship we might find missing? After a year of Zoom meetings, this seems very relevant."

The debate over truth and facts provides no easy answers in The Lifespan of a Fact (March 18 - April 16, 2022). Jim Fingal is a fresh-out-of-Harvard fact checker for a prominent but sinking New York magazine. John D'Agata is a talented writer with a transcendent essay about the suicide of a teenage boy-an essay that could save the magazine from collapse. When Jim is assigned to fact check D'Agata's essay, the two come head to head in a comedic yet gripping battle. "What I like about this play is that it takes a real set of circumstances and tells the story with humor and makes it relatable," says director Kez Settle. "Can we bend the truth to serve art? When is it not okay? Humans bend the truth all the time, but this play raises the question on where one draws the line; when does this compromise your integrity or the integrity of the story and who is hurt by it. There are victims to the liberties taken, and this play helps shed light on this fact as well."

Too Heavy for Your Pocket (May 13 - June 12, 2022 concludes the season. Set in the 60s, the play introduces us to Sally and Tony, and their neighbors Bowzie and Evelyn, who are working to build a solid foundation for themselves and their growing families outside of Nashville. As Sally gets her beauty school license and Bowzie attends Fisk on scholarship, the world is looking wide with possibilities. But when Bowzie leaves school and joins the Freedom Riders the tenuous threads holding their lives together are stretched. Director Lynch Travis explains that the play is "important now because we, this culture, have an opportunity to delve into social issues, learn about our subcultures, how they intersect and diverge." While taking place during an important historical moment, the play looks closely at how the changing world affects its characters. "There is love between couples and friends that abound in this play against the backdrop of a Big Thing, the civil rights movement." Too Heavy for Your Pocket is a powerful look at the balance between security and risk, the bonds of love and friendship, and the personal cost of progress.

Open Book theatre was named Trenton Business of the Year for 2019, has won several Michigan theatre awards, and is quickly becoming a key player in the cultural scene Downriver. The theatre hires professional actors, directors, and designers from the Metro Detroit area. With so many wonderful, local eateries nearby many patrons go out for dinner or drinks before or after the show, making it a full night out with friends or a wonderful date.

Individual tickets are only $25 for general admission, $20 for seniors, and $15 for students, with all tickets for each opening night gala at $30 each. Season tickets for all 5 shows offer up to a 25% discount: $100 for general admission, $80 for seniors, $65 for students, and $125 for opening nights. Tickets can be purchased online at or through the box office. More information can be found online or by calling 734 288-7753. Many of the shows feature adult language, contact the theatre for more information.

Covid safety is a top priority for the theatre. "One of the things that audiences love about Open Book, it's intimacy, is also one of the biggest reasons we're being extremely pro-active," said Schafer Ewbank. The board of directors has passed policies requiring everyone in the theatre to be vaccinated against COVID-19, including audience and artists.

"We're so very close to each other, breathing in the same air, for the duration of the play. We have an obligation to keep everyone as safe as possible."

The theatre has upgraded the filtration on their HVAC unit with I-Wave C filters, increased cleaning, and will follow CDC guidelines for masking. Additionally, they are only selling at partial capacity. Up to date policies and procedures can be found on the website.

"We're closely following numbers, as well as the latest research and recommendations. We also have a generous exchange policy. Please don't come to the theatre if you're not feeling well or have been exposed."

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