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Sylvan Theater on the Sylvan Green, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota, US

A sylvan theater—sometimes called a greenery theater (French: théâtre de verdure) (also spelt theatre, see spelling differences)—is a type of outdoor theater situated in a wooded (sylvan) setting. Often adorned with classical motifs (columns, statues), a sylvan theater may substitute a simple green lawn for built seating and can include elaborate arrangements of shrubs, flowers and other greenery. These alfresco stages may be features of grand formal gardens or parks, or of more intimate settings, and may be intended for either public or private use.[1]

History of sylvan theaters

Parc floral des Thermes, Aix-les-Bains, France

A notable early example of a sylvan theater was the Bosquet du Théâtre d’Eau ("Water Theater Grove")—one of the 14 celebrated bosquet ("groves") in the Gardens of the Palace of Versailles near Paris. The central feature of this bosquet, which was designed for King Louis XIV by Le Nôtre between 1671 and 1674, was the auditorium-like theater sided by three tiers of turf seating that faced a stage decorated with four fountains alternating with three radiating cascades. As part of the replantation of the gardens ordered by King Louis XVI during the winter of 1774–75, the Bosquet du Théâtre d’Eau was destroyed and replaced with an unadorned garden. (As of 2009, the Bosquet du Théâtre d’Eau is currently being rebuilt.)[1]

Notable sylvan theaters


Westfalenpark in Dortmund

North America


  1. ^ a b Waugh, Frank Albert (1917). Outdoor Theaters: The Design, Construction and Use of Open-air Auditoriums. R. G. Badger. ISBN 9781409766223.
  2. ^ "Sylvan Theater 13-M". Facilities Services. University of Washington. Retrieved 2015-04-29. Sylvan Grove Theater and Columns is a natural outdoor theater with a gentle sloping lawn for seating and a raised lawn for a stage. None of this area is paved with the exception of the entry paths.