OISTAT was founded in Prague in 1968. It stands for “Organisation Internationale des Scénographes, Techniciens et Architectes de Théâtre” in French, and “International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians” in English. OISTAT is a global network for theatre practitioners celebrating design, technology and architecture in live performances.

Brief History of OISTAT

1999 Congress in Prague, Czech Republic

In 1968, OISTAT was founded in Prague enabling the exchange of ideas from both sides of the Iron Curtain. Originally the organization’s name was Organisation Internationale des Scénographes et technicians de Théatre-OISTT/OISTT. In 1985, the organization was renamed International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians (OISTAT), to include theatre architects, who had already been in close cooperation with many OISTT members.

The founding countries of OISTAT were Canada, Czechoslovakia, the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Israel, and the United States. International Theatre Institute (ITI) was an important supporter of OISTAT.

With the collapse of the Iron Curtain in the early 1990s, OISTAT’s membership expanded with new members from Latin America and Asia. OISTAT Secretariat relocated to Taipei, Taiwan in 2006. Five years later, OISTAT Secretariat became OISTAT Headquarters to better accommodate the organization’s continuous growth.

Continuing OISTAT’s mission into the first two decades of the twenty-first century, OISTAT serves as a global platform facilitating international collaborations on events and programmes, celebrating works from different regions around the world, and strengthening professional networks for performance designers, theatre architects, theatre educators, stage technicians, and performance researchers.stage technicians, and performance researchers.

The Forming of OISTAT Commissions

During the first OISTT international Congress in 1968, four commissions were established: Theatre Technology Commission, Theatre Architecture Commission, Scenography Commission (later changed to Performance Design Commission), and the Publication and Information Exchange Commission (later changed to Publication and Communication Commission.) In order to exchange ideas and knowledge between universities and promote collaborative international research, Education Commission and Research Commission were established in 1971 and 1976. Currently, OISTAT has six commissions to undertake the essential activities of the organization:

  • Architecture
  • Education
  • Performance Design
  • Publication & Communication
  • Research
  • Technology

1972 Scenography Commission Meeting in Prague, Czechoslovakia

An additional four sub-commissions support Performance Design Commission’s activities through their specializations:


Prague Quadrennial (PQ) is one of the important partners of OISTAT. In the OISTAT’s early years, the World Congress was held often during PQ events due to both organizations shared professional networks. OISTAT’s Scenofest occurred during the Prague Quadrennial from 2003 to 2011. After 2013, Scenofest would become connected to World Stage Design.

1996 Executive Committee Meeting in Dresden, Germany (Provided by Ma!a Pekkanen)

World Stage Design

World Stage Design (WSD) is an OISTAT event held every 4 years that is comprised of 4 distinct components that are presented simultaneously:

  1. International Design Exhibition and Competition
  2. Scenofest
  3. Theatre Architecture Competition (TAC)
  4. Technical Invention Prize (TIP)

Since its inception, World Stage Design has occurred in Toronto (2005), Seoul (2009), Cardiff (2013), and Taipei (2017).

WSD Design Exhibition and Competition

OISTAT founded World Stage Design in order to recognize the growing amount of remarkable designers across the globe. World Stage Design emphasizes the individual works designers, technicians, and theatre architects create by providing direct opportunities for participation into the festival. This is in contrast with other festivals where design works are selected and then exhibited by national or regional curatorial teams.

As separate international festivals, WSD and the Prague Quadrennial complement each other’s efforts and inject new energy into the fields of performance design, theatre architecture, performance research, and stage technology.


Scenofest’s name originates from the combination of the words “scenography” and “festival”. Devised by renowned scenographer and educator Pamela Howard in 1994, Scenofest is a festival celebrating scenography and engages professionals and students in the field of theatre design with a wide range of seminars, workshops, thematic exhibitions, performances, and presentations by leading practitioners in all areas of theater design and stage technology.

Theatre Architecture Competition (TAC)

Organized by OISTAT’s Architecture Commission, TAC encourages the formulation of new ideas about theatre architecture and interdisciplinary cooperation. Occurring every four years since 1978, TAC is a competitive exhibition during recent World Stage Design events.

Technical Invention Prize (TIP)

The competition, initiated in 2011, invites theatre technicians worldwide to share simple and smart solutions in everyday stage practice. All competition entries are published in a catalogue as a reference for industry professionals and educators. OISTAT’s Technology Commission awards the Technical Invention Prize during World Stage Design.

2017 World Stage Design in Taipei, Taiwan (Photo Credit: Flor Dias)

OISTAT Leadership in the Past

1st President

Walter Unruh



2nd President

Dr. Joël E. Rubin


United States of America

3rd President

Helmut Grosser


United States of America

4th President

Richard Durst


United States of America

5th President

Maija Pekkanen



6th President

Michael Ramsaur


United States of America

7th President

Louis Janssen



1st and 4th General Secretary

Dr. Ota Ornest



2nd General Secretary

Josef Svoboda



3rd General Secretary

Eva Soukupovǎ



5th General Secretary

Chris Lievaart



1st Executive Director

Wei-Wen Chang



2nd Executive Director

Kathy Hong