Our Mission

The mission of Theater in the Open is to redefine the boundaries of community theater by transforming the magical tradition of storytelling into theater that is open and free to all. We perform outdoors in public spaces, connecting art with nature and with each other. We are also dedicated to elevating the caliber and accessibility of youth arts education to further enrich the cultural landscape.

Why Free Theater?

We are proud to have realized our long-term goal of bringing free theater to the area, keeping art as open and accessible as possible. At its very essence, theater is communal. We want to keep this most universal of cultural traditions alive and well, with no barriers to access. Art helps to build community and we want to continue to be a resource for people to establish connections with each other, with their imaginations and with nature.  

We are equally committed to fostering youth arts education, because we recognize that exposure to the arts helps young people connect to a community while building self-confidence, empathy and critical thinking skills. We want to help kids to find their own voices so we work hard to ensure that our education programs are affordable. We also offer a robust scholarship program to further support accessibility. To learn more or contribute to this effort, visit our Ways to Give page. 


There’s something very appealing to me about free art and free cultural experiences, where the communal form becomes as important as the content. There is something wonderfully democratic and fundamental about a community deciding that something is worth investing in so that everyone can enjoy it.
— Edward Speck, Artistic Director

What We've Achieved

  • Shifted from a fee-based to a free theater model, ensuring that art is accessible to all. 
  • Premiered numerous works, including more than 25 original scripts and 100 adaptations.

  • Formed partnerships with a number of health and human services organizations to include underserved youths in areas beyond Greater Newburyport in our programs.

  • Received the 1999 Newburyport Mayor’s Art Award for our body of work.

  • Increased capacity at our Summer Arts Workshop — we are now able to serve over 300 students each summer. 

  • Named as Curators for the Gatekeeper’s House at Maudslay State Park, ensuring continuity at our headquarters for the next 20 years.