Drama Meets The Outdoors In NC
Every summer theater groups across North Carolina bring history alive in the scenic outdoors. You can find productions of outdoor drama in every corner of the state. Most are historical dramatizations of the area’s rich heritage but you can also find traditional Shakespeare. Here is a sampling of some of the biggest crowd pleasers from around the state.
Unto These Hills, Cherokee
Kermit Hunter, playwright; Jack F. Kilpatrick and McCrae Hardy, composers
From the arrival in the Appalachian Mountains of Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in 1540, to the removal of the Cherokee Indians to Oklahoma along the tragic “trail of tears,” this drama paints a vivid portrait of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and their brave leaders, Junaluska, Tsali and Sequoyah, who fought for survival.
The Montford Park Players, Asheville
For over thirty years, the Players have made it their mission to make Shakespeare accessible to everyone through both their performance style and by offering their shows free of charge.
Horn in the West, Boone
Kermit Hunter, playwright; Peter MacBeth, composer
Set in the southern Appalachian mountain region of North Carolina during the American Revolutionary War, the drama follows frontiersman Daniel Boone and his band of mountain settlers as they struggle against the British militia.
From This Day Forward, Valdese
Fred Cranford, playwright
Told through music, dance and drama, From This Day Forward is the story of the Waldenses, a religious sect that arose in southeast France in the late 1100s, centering on their struggle to survive persecution in their homeland, and their eventual arrival in North Carolina in 1893 to establish a colony at Valdese.
Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend, Wilkesboro
The murder of Laura Foster by Tom Dooley over a century ago in what is now known as Ferguson, NC, was one of the nation's first highly publicized crimes of passion. Dooley was hanged for the crime, but many questions were left unanswered. This drama fills the gaps for serious Tom Dooley fans. Scenes are tied together with authentic acoustic bluegrass music from the foothills.
Shakespeare on the Green, Wilmington
The free-to-the-public Shakespeare on the Green Festival takes the stage every May and June at the newly renovated Greenfield Lake Amphitheater in Wilmington, NC.
Pathway to Freedom, Snow Camp
Mark R. Sumner, playwright; Ann Hunt-Smith, composer
Pathway to Freedom is the story of how anti-slavery North Carolinians and freed African Americans helped hundreds of escaped slaves flee to the North prior to the Civil War, via the underground railroad.
Sword of Peace, Snow Camp
William Hardy, playwright
The Sword of Peace dramatizes the conflict faced by members of the North Carolina Society of Friends during the Revolutionary War, when, as peaceful Quakers, they were forced to defend their basic tenet of nonviolence.
Amistad Saga: Reflections, Raleigh
Ann Hunt-Smith, playwright; Reggie Jeffries, composer
A mutiny aboard a slave ship that marked the beginning of the end of slavery in the United States is brought to life through powerful speeches, song, and dance. Amistad dramatizes the plight of the ship’s captives, from their removal out of their native land to a revolt at sea, and their battle for freedom.
The Lost Colony, Manteo
Paul Green, playwright
Performed in the Waterside Theatre, this symphonic drama depicts the valiant struggle of 117 men, women and children attempting to settle in the New World in 1587. They disappeared without a trace, and for over 400 years, this has been one of history’s greatest mysteries. Many famous actors, including Andy Griffith, got their start in this drama.
First for Freedom, Halifax
Max B. Williams, playwright
This drama celebrates events that led up to the signing of the Halifax Resolves on April 12, 1776, the first formal declaration of independence from Great Britain by an American Colony.
Institute of Outdoor Drama, Greensboro
Established in 1963, the Institute is the only organization in the US providing national leadership in fostering artistic and managerial excellence and expansion of the outdoor drama movement through training, research and advisory programs, and serves as a national clearinghouse for its more than 100 constituent theatre companies across the nation.
added: April 30, 2010
updated: May 31, 2012
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