Nature's Theatre at Saluda Shoals Park

“This project will be a game changer for the entire region, providing moving experiences for audiences, artists and anyone who has ever walked in the woods and heard music from the birds, seen art made unintentionally by tree branches or noticed how the wind makes things dance, how the sheer immensity of quiet sounds like a beautiful soliloquy. That's Nature's Theater.”

~ Larry Hembree, Managing Director, Trustus Theater

Patrons of the arts in Columbia are gaining an innovative new performance venue. Nature’s Theatre is being created as part of a cultural enrichment plan for Saluda Shoals Park in Irmo.  Its design intends to unite performer, viewer and environment within a 400-acre nature preserve.

Nature's Theatre - photo Kent Porth

The state-of-the-art structure is being carefully crafted within the natural landscape, a demure tenant but well-equipped with every amenity of a professional theatre. The three-story facility is to include dressing rooms, a green room, concession area, box office, restrooms, and a treetop event space. The space will accommodate 1,000 people, with 500 dedicated seats and space for 500 on the lawn.

New York City-based Resolution: 4 Architecture‘s environmentally sensitive design was chosen from among 80 entries in an international competition.  It is “very different from anything we have anywhere in our state,” says Saluda Shoals Foundation Director Dolly Patton.

A trip over the ravine-spanning bridge welcomes visitors to the theatre.  They are invited to take a seat before the covered stage.  Nature becomes a unique collaborator in an exchange between art and technology.

Several events have already begun to establish Saluda Shoals Park as a destination for the arts, including Shakespeare in the Park, unearth -- a celebration of naturally inspired art and Holiday Lights on the River.  Patton hopes Nature’s Theatre will become a premier destination for great art and facilitate cultural enrichment for the community. Regional and national talent is welcome.

Saluda Shoals Foundation has raised $600,000 on the way to the first million for the project. It is a $5 million endeavor. Sponsors can assist fundraising efforts by reserving a seat at Nature’s Theatre. Benefits include: name on seat, invitation to the Grand Opening, advance notice of events, invitations to Saluda Shoals Foundation private events, and preferred parking.

More expansions are planned for the park within the next two years, with Saluda Shoals expanding nature trails, building soccer fields and tennis courts, and installing zip-lines.

For more information or to reserve a seat, contact Saluda Shoals Foundation at 803-213-2035 or

  ~ Karla Turner