Edge-of-your-seat drama this was not. But give Julie Arnold Lisnet credit for trying to help save the republic.

“I was very proud of us,” Lisnet, a co-founder of Ten Bucks Theater Company in Bangor, said Wednesday. “The little theater that could.”

She’s talking about the “Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election,” more commonly known as the Mueller report.

Surely you’ve heard of it.

Just as surely, you probably haven’t read it.

Last weekend, Lisnet and more than two dozen like-minded volunteers took to the stage of Hauck Auditorium at the University of Maine to do what few Americans have done since Robert Mueller released his 448-page tome on April 18.


They read it. Out loud. Without stopping.

The audience never grew beyond a handful. No matter – Lisnet & Company kept on reading even when all the seats were empty.

They read about President Trump’s firing of James Comey, his pique with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Mueller probe, the infamous meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with the so-called Russian operatives offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, the numerous and seemingly endless ways the Russians interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election …

We now pause for the obvious question: They did this … why?

Because the report matters. Hugely. And Lisnet, for one, thinks it’s high time people who love to talk about Mueller actually took the time to hear what he had to say.

“I don’t care which side of the political aisle you’re on,” she said. “I think it’s something that every American citizen who cares about their democracy should read.”


Lisnet got the idea for the reading from a pair of New York City acting companies that did the same thing from June 1 to 2 at the Arc in Long Island City. Dubbed “Filibustered and Unfiltered: America Reads the Mueller Report,” that 24-hour gathering reportedly attracted more than 1,000 people and drew 10,000 views on Facebook Live.

Lisnet, an adjunct faculty member in the University of Maine’s Division of Theatre and Dance, quickly secured the venue and set about lining up readers. In the end, 28 showed up, all eager to spend at least a half-hour reading from the Mueller text.

Lisnet’s marching orders: “I want absolutely no commentary. I want you to read straightforwardly. Don’t put bias in your voice. No dramatics. Because that’s how we need to present this.”

About half the readers were members of the theater company. The youngest, Lisnet’s daughter, is 20. The oldest is in his 70s. One lawyer showed up to read, as did an elected official.

“I am so thankful to Julie for doing it,” said Laurie Osher, a town council member from Orono, who read for a half-hour late Saturday morning and spent an additional two and a half hours listening to others.

Osher, who tried to read the whole report on her own but grew tired of its sometimes impenetrable language and analysis, came away from what she heard feeling sad. In particular, the many redactions left her frustrated with what we still do not know.


(At the New York reading, whenever a redaction came along, they paused for a few seconds of dramatic music.)

“It’s so clear that these are prosecutable offenses that undermine our democracy and undermine out trust in government,” Osher said.

Saturday’s sparse attendance can be viewed two ways.

Lisnet readily admits that there wasn’t enough lead time to properly promote the reading. And despite her hopes for rain, the picture-perfect weather that day didn’t exactly drive people to the somber auditorium.

But beyond the logistics, another question beckons: In these polarized political times, do people even care what’s in the report?

Or do they simply rely on whatever comes out of their particular news silo to decide for them whether Mueller’s two years of work was worth the effort – and, if so, what should happen next?


Lisnet worried that hecklers might show up at the reading. None did.

But on the event’s Facebook page, one woman who supports Trump started a minor dust-up when she wrote, “Why? There are blatant lies in it.”

She’s right. At least if she’s talking about the part where press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tells Mueller’s crew that her bogus claim of widespread disdain for Comey within the FBI ranks was a “slip of the tongue.” Or that her second such claim came “in the heat of the moment” and, according to Mueller, “was not founded on anything.”

What isn’t a lie, as Mueller makes so painfully clear at the outset, is that the Russian government and its moles “interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” And in the process, they committed numerous crimes.

As Mueller said during his only public statement on the report, “That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

Lisnet hasn’t given up on the idea of doing another reading, perhaps in the fall when there’s more time to spread the word.


To which Osher would add a suggestion: Rather than do it all at once, how about spreading it out, an hour at a time, over the course of a month? And rather than return to the UMaine auditorium, why not take it on the road?

“Perhaps it should be connected in with happy hour. Maybe every day at 5 o’clock in the bars in Bangor or Orono, someone should read it. Just for an hour,” Osher said. “It could be a month’s worth of happy hours.”

Great idea. Now all it needs is a new name.

Something like “The Mueller Report: We came. We listened. We drowned our sorrows.”

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