The Institute was founded in 1963 with a mission to serve the historical outdoor drama movement in the United States. Since then our mission has expanded to include all types of outdoor theatre from countries throughout the world. Shakespeare festivals, musical theatre, religious and historical plays and all other forms of outdoor theatre are featured on this website. Our scope includes a wide variety of professional and community theatre organizations whose performances may run throughout the summer season or for only a few presentations. These organizations are united by their dedication to producing outstanding theatre and their unique position as providers of exceptional entertainment for their audiences.
Our goal is to provide a link to every outdoor theatre in the world through this website. If you are a theatre company producing any part of your work outdoors and you are not listed here, please contact us so that we may add you to the list. There is no charge for this service.
Membership and Support: In addition to our international directory of theatres, the Institute provides additional benefits to members and supporters whose contributions help fund our work. Consulting services, conferences, auditions and special publications are among those benefits. Membership and support options are listed under the “Participate” menu on our home page.
In 1990, the Institute of Outdoor Theatre established the Mark R. Sumner Award to honor his lifetime contribution in the field of outdoor theatre. The award recognizes significant contributions by an individual to a specific organization, or to outdoor theatre as a whole, including but not limited to playwriting, directing, acting, design, theater architecture, patronage, scholarship, musical composition, technology and innovation, producing and administration. This award is presented annually at the National Conference on Outdoor Theatre, held in October.
- 2014 – Michael Graham, Producer/Director, Power and Light Productions
- 2013 – Paul Nicholson, Executive Director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
- 2012 – Jackie Mills, Founder-Playwright, Salado Legends, Texas
- 2011 – Scott J. Parker, Director Emeritus, Institute of Outdoor Theatre, North Carolina
- 2010 – William R. Winkler, III, Board Chairman, Horn in the West, North Carolina
- 2009 – *James E. Wilson, Founder and General Manager/Producer, Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre, North Carolina
- 2008 – Gayle Bowling , General Manager, Theatre West Virginia, West Virginia
- 2007 – Anne “Si” Arnold, Costumer, Stephen Foster – The Musical, Kentucky
- 2006 – Mark Hofflund, Managing Director, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Idaho
- 2005 – Barbara Polly , Producer, Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Virginia
- 2004 – Dennis Anderson , Artistic Director, Ramona and San Jacinto Valley Shakespeare Festival, California
- 2003 – Larry D. Gustke, Assoc. Professor, NC State University, North Carolina
- 2002 – *Fred Alley, Artistic Director/Founder, American Folklore Theatre, Wisconsin
- 2001 – Tina Packer, Artistic Director/Founder, Shakespeare & Company, Massachusetts
- 2000 – Marion N. Waggoner, Producer/Artistic Director, Tecumseh!, Ohio
- 1999 – William M. Hardy, Director, Unto These Hills, North Carolina
- 1998 – Fred C. Adams, Founder, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Utah
- 1997 – *W.L. “Rusty” Mundell, Founder, Tecumseh!, Ohio
- 1996 – David W. Weiss, Director and Designer of 15 outdoor theatres, Virginia
- 1995 –* William W. Patton, Executive Director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Oregon
- 1994 –* Josef Meier, Founder, The Black Hills Passion Play, South Dakota
- 1993 –* Kermit Hunter, Playwright of 43 outdoor dramas, Texas
- 1992 –* Raymond Railard, General Manager, TEXAS, Texas
- 1991 – *Bert Ballard, General Manager, The Stephen Foster Story, Kentucky
The Scott J. Parker Award is a new award presented to an exceptional volunteer in the field of outdoor theatre. A cash prize of five hundred dollars ($500), this award recognizes an individual who has been nominated by an IOD member theatre for their extraordinary, dedicated and unpaid service to the organization over a significant period of time. These volunteers may have served on boards of directors or worked in any aspect of a theatre’s operation from the front office to backstage to the box office or usher corps. An awards committee will consider nominations for the Scott Parker Award annually, although an award will not necessarily be made every year.
- 2014 – Emily Coghlan, Montford Park Players
- 2013 – Lynell Ginter, The Stephen Foster Story