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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Dramatic Arts

by Ansley Herring Wegner and Ted Mitchell
Additional research provided by Cecelia Moore.

See also: Opera Houses; Outdoor Dramas; Strolling Players; Thalian Association.

Dramatic Arts- Part 3: Community Theaters and School-Related Programs

Part 3: Community Theaters and School-Related ProgramsLittle Theatre of Charlotte. Image available from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story.

Community theaters in North Carolina have continued to thrive since Koch's time. With the Little Theatre of Charlotte, now known as Theatre Charlotte, opening in 1927, and theaters in Winston-Salem, Brevard, and Raleigh opening in the 1930s, the state has some of the longest-running community theaters in the nation. Perhaps one of the most notable figures to emerge from the community theater scene was Charlton Heston, who, with his wife Lydia, began directing at the Asheville Community Theater in 1947, its second year in operation. According to the North Carolina Theater Conference, by the early 2000s there were at least 117 community theaters serving various cities, counties, and regions in North Carolina.

There are numerous college and university theater programs contributing to theatrical education in the state, with the oldest, the Belmont Abbey Players, having been in continuous production since 1884. Outdoor dramas and summer theaters such as Mars Hill's Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater, started in 1975, provide both college students and potential professional theater stock an opportunity for quality theatrical experiences. In addition, secondary school theater programs and privately run youth theaters serve as foundations for developing and training the future performers and technical crews of the state's community and professional theaters.

Keep reading >> Dramatic Arts- Part 4: Professional Companies and Festivals Keep reading


James H. Dormon Jr., Theater in the Ante-Bellum South (1967).

Philip C. Kolin, ed., Shakespeare in the South: Essays on Performance (1983).

Harry Gene Lominac, The Carolina Dramatic Association: Its History, 1922-1962 (1962).

Hugh F. Rankin, The Theater in Colonial America (1965).

Richard Walser, ed., North Carolina Drama (1956).

Charles S. Watson, The History of Southern Drama (1997).

Image Credit:

Little Theatre of Charlotte. Image available from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story. Available from (accessed October 1, 2012).