Tucked inside the Hellems Arts and Sciences Building is the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre, named after the first female professor at the University of Colorado and the first woman in the U.S. to teach at a state university. The Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre was officially completed in 1939, but no plays were staged there until 1944, when Shakespeare teacher and bibliographer James Sandoe was asked to direct a play for the coming summer. Because the Department of the Navy occupied the indoor University Theatre during World War II, Sandoe decided to try out the new Mary Rippon complex with a production of "Romeo and Juliet", thereby starting the tradition that would grow into the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
Relax in comfort with complimentary seatbacks at all outdoor Colorado Shakespeare Festival shows.
Enjoying outdoor theatre
We perform rain or shine! Attending an outdoor show in the Boulder foothills can be unpredictable. Come prepared to enjoy the adventure by reviewing our weather policy and attire suggestions below.
In accordance with campus, community, and union guidelines, there are additional safety protocols in place at the festival this season. While some details continue to evolve, be prepared for the following:
- Masks are required for all patrons to enter the venue and when moving about all spaces such as aisles, the box office or bathrooms. We invite you to remove your mask while in your seat during the performance.
- Rather than entering the venue through Hellems, front-of-house staff will direct you to one of the two outdoor entrances to the venue. (You'll get to peek backstage!)
- We are not offering concessions, and no food or drink is allowed inside the venue. Picnic in the gardens before the performance, or support one of the many awesome restaurants on the Hill or Pearl Street before or after the show.
Plans for the 2021 season are subject to the permissible event guidelines from public health officials and the university that will be in place at the time of the performances. We will provide details about all COVID-19 protocols as they become available. Learn more
Boulder residents can catch a number of local buses to campus, including the Skip, Dash, 204, 225, Hop and Stampede.
Denver metro residents can catch the Flatiron Flyer, serving the Highway 36 corridor between Denver Union Station and the CU Boulder Campus.
Longmont residents can catch the Bolt into Downtown Boulder and transfer to any of the local bus routes mentioned above to reach the CU Boulder campus.
You can ride right up to the show, as all CU Presents venues have banks of outdoor bike racks nearby. Using Google Maps for directions is easy: just type in your starting point and destination and select the bicycle symbol.
Don't have your own wheels? Boulder B-cycle's easy, affordable bike-sharing system boasts 41 bike stations located around town and on the CU Boulder campus.
Skateboards are not allowed inside our venues, but it's easy and free to store your board nearby. A skateboard rack is located on the east side of CU Boulder's courtyard fountain, just outside the Cristol Chemistry and Biochemistry lecture hall. From there, it's a quick walk west to the Rippon. Don't forget to bring your own lock!
Whether you're coming from down the street or from out of town, CU Boulder Parking and Transportation has various parking options for you. Pay for parking at the pay stations, or download the Parkmobile smartphone app for quick, easy parking reservation and payment.
Live caption and audio description services
If you are planning to attend the event and require these accommodations, please call or email the box office at 303-492-8008 or firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve the service. Reservations for this service should be made at the time of ticket purchase to ensure the best seating for this service.
Wheelchair companion seating
Wheelchair companion seating is available in all of our venues on a first-come, first-served basis. Companion seating can only be purchased with a wheelchair seat. Please visit our website and select seats with the wheelchair icon or contact the box office at 303-492-8008 to purchase companion seating.
As of the 2015 season, the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre has a ramp providing direct access from Hellems building into the seating area from the west entrance. Three new ADA-compliant seats have been added, bringing the theatre’s total to 15. Paving repairs aimed at improving accessibility have also been completed.
Assisted listening devices
Assistive listening devices are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the University Theatre Box Office beginning one hour before every performance. Quantities are limited. We'll ask for a credit card or driver's license as a deposit, which will be returned to you after the performance.
The University Theatre Box Office is located on the lower level of the University Theatre Building, directly below the indoor performance venue. To access it, use the main building entrance and take the stairs on the left down one flight, or enter on the building's east side and ride the elevator down to the bottom floor. Please be sure to ask for an assistive listening device before the show begins since the box office is closed for the duration of each performance.
American Sign Language interpretation
CSF offers American Sign Language interpretation for our productions. Please email the box office at email@example.com at least two (2) weeks in advance of the performance date, location, and number of people needing the service to make arrangements. Typically, ASL interpretation is scheduled for the duration of the show only.
Subject to some limitations, service animals that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability may accompany patrons in all CU Presents venues.
Assistance animals (therapy animals, emotional support or comfort animals) are generally not allowed to accompany patrons into our venues.
Please refer to the CU Boulder service animals policy for more detailed guidelines about service animals on campus.
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival does not permit children under 5 at any performance.
We perform rain or shine! Attending an outdoor show in the Boulder foothills can be unpredictable. Come prepared to enjoy the adventure by reviewing our weather policy and attire suggestions.
Decisions on whether to cancel for inclement weather usually are not made until curtain time. Performances will proceed in the rain, unless weather conditions become threatening to performers or the audience.
Please check the weather report before you come and dress for the forecast. We recommend that you wear what makes you feel comfortable for the outdoor show-going experience, whether it’s shorts and a t-shirt or a suit and tie. You might want a jacket after sunset or need to bring rain gear. (Umbrellas and other items that might block someone's view are prohibited. Grab your poncho or rain slicker instead!)
In the event that the entire CU Boulder campus is closed due to weather, CSF will notify patrons via the website and box office telephone and will provide instructions for ticket exchanges.
If air quality is extremely poor due to smoke or other atmospheric conditions, CSF may make the decision to cancel a performance no earlier than at the performance start time.
Outside food and drink
For the health and safety of our patrons and employees, face masks must be worn at all times. Per union safety guidelines, eating and drinking will not be permitted inside the theatre, but picnicking outside of the theatre in the Shakespeare Gardens is encouraged!
Smoking or vaping
Smoking or vaping is not permitted anywhere on the CU Boulder campus.
Large baskets and bags are not permitted inside of any CSF venue, so please leave those items at home or in your car. Open umbrellas are not permitted during outdoor performances in any part of the seating area, including the back row; in case of rain, consider bringing a poncho or other wearable raingear.
No late seating
Due to contractual agreements with the Actors’ Equity Association, we are unable to offer late seating this season. Please ensure that you arrive early to the performance to avoid being locked out! Late patrons will be directed to the box office to exchange their tickets for another performance, pending remaining ticket availability.
Any light or sound (including vibration) emitting from cell phones or other electronic devices is disruptive and disrespectful to performers and other audience members. All personal devices—cell phones, pagers, tablets, watch alarms, etc.—should be turned off or silenced and put away before the performance begins.
By contractual agreement with the artists, photographs and audio or video recordings are strictly prohibited.
Masks are required in the venue at all times.
To ensure your safety in case of fire or any other emergency, please note the exit route nearest to your seat when you arrive. Do not walk on top of the stone benches in the theatre.
Night of show box office for ticketed events
If you have emailed tickets
Please proceed directly to the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre where an usher will assist you. Emailed tickets can be printed out or displayed on a mobile device for entry.
If you have will call tickets
Please visit the box office window located in the basement of the University Theatre Building. Window opens one hour before performances.
If you lost your tickets
Please visit the box office window located in the basement of the University Theatre Building or contact us in advance.