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Making a People’s Theatre: Proff Koch and the Carolina Playmakers

Playmakers poster2

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Making a People’s Theatre:  Proff Koch and the Carolina Playmakers
Wilson Special Collections Library
North Carolina Collection Gallery
February 21 – May 31, 2014
Free and open to the  public
Special event April 8: “A Model for Folk Theatre: The Carolina Playmakers

The original Carolina Playmakers—a precursor to today’s Playmakers Repertory Company—will be the focus of an exhibit this spring in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

Making a People’s Theatre: Proff Koch and the Carolina Playmakers will use photographs, artifacts, playbills, and original documents to explore the founding and history of the groundbreaking collegiate group.

Among the items on exhibit will be original props and costumes from the 1919 production of The Return of Buck Gavin, written by and starring then-student Thomas Wolfe (class of 1920).

Frederick “Proff” Koch, who became the University of North Carolina’s first playwriting instructor in 1918, founded Carolina Playmakers as a vehicle for the works of his students. Koch and his troupe produced drama that leaned heavily on folk tradition and portrayed the lives of ordinary North Carolinians.

Wolfe and classmate Paul Green (class of 1921 and author of the now classic play The Lost Colony) were among the many notable writers to emerge from the Carolina Playmakers. The troupe also produced actors such as Andy Griffith (class of 1949).

In 1976 the Playmakers Repertory Company succeeded Carolina Playmakers, with professional actors in lead roles supported by guest artists, professional staff, and graduate students in the department in UNC’s Department of Dramatic Art.

Making a People’s Theatre is sponsored by the North Carolina Collection and the Southern Historical Collection. The exhibit is free and open to the public. It will be on view through May 31.

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