In 1986, shortly after they retired to Belfast, Nancy and Basil Burwell met Diane Coller Wilson. Their talk soon turned to theater and the fact that Belfast had no resident performance group. Not long after, they began a series of acting workshops in the basement of the library's Abbott Room, open to anyone interested.
Basil Burwell, who had been involved in theater as actor, director and teacher, proposed the theatrical name "Maskers" for the troupe. In the weeks before Christmas in 1987 the new group presented their first production, Saint George and the Dragon, in grange halls and community centers throughout Waldo County. In 1989 the Belfast Maskers, led by Burwell and a Board of Directors comprised of interested members of the Belfast community, was formally incorporated. In 1990, the Maskers was granted 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status.
From that single production in 1987, the Maskers "season" rapidly expanded, and by 1992 included six full multi-performance productions.