About the Belfast Maskers
The mission of Belfast Maskers is to provide hands-on opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Through the performing arts, we continue our long-standing commitment to the enrichment, entertainment, and education of our community.
A Brief History
Founded in 1987 by retired theater arts professor Basil Burwell, Belfast Maskers has been an integral part of the midcoast Maine arts community since their inception. Consistently praised for their high-quality performance and production standards, the Maskers takes great pride in bringing professional values to community theater. Since their founding, the Maskers have engaged thousands of volunteers to produce serious dramas, light-hearted comedies, musicals, youth-oriented shows, Shakespeare, and the classics.
In its formative years, Belfast Maskers performed several shows in a church at 17 Court Street in downtown Belfast. In 1992, with help from the City, the company moved to a former railroad terminal on the city’s waterfront. Hundreds of volunteers contributed thousands of hours to turn the abandoned terminal into a year-round theater that would house the company for the next 19 years. In many ways, the physical theater reflected the funky, “can do” spirit of Belfast—from its comfy, upholstered pews that served as seating for the audiences to the lack of a backstage green room!
In 2011, because of changing economics, the city had to raze the Maskers’ railway theater building for commercial development. For the next seven years, the ever-willing cadre of theater-obsessed volunteers transformed parks, warehouses, and church social halls into pop-up theaters, proving that, no matter what, the shows do go on. Although homeless, Maskers didn’t miss a beat—it kept producing first-rate shows wherever the muses took it.
A new era dawned for Maskers in 2018 when they became the owner of the same building (17 Court Street) that housed the company at its start. Named “The Basil Burwell Community Theater” in honor of its founder, the historic and multi-faceted building now serves as a permanent home for the Maskers and provides space for other community-based groups to perform and grow.