Forest Theatre

People creating dramatic set at Forest Theatre

The Forest Theatre is a stone amphitheater structure built into the hillside on the eastern edge of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and contiguous with Battle Park. Outdoor drama was first performed on this site in 1916 to celebrate the tercentenary of Shakespeare's death. William C. Coker, botany professor and founder of Coker Arboretum (also under the Garden's care today), chose the location. A few years later, Professor Frederick Koch, founder of the Carolina Playmakers, developed the location into a permanent theater. Forest Theatre was rebuilt with Work Projects Administration funds in 1940 and further improved in 1948.

Paperhand Puppet Intervention's
The Beautiful Beast

Puppet of the 2016 performance

Award-winning puppet troupe, Paperhand Puppet Intervention, returns August 5 with their 17th annual enormous puppet pageant that takes a look at the monsters and beasts that inhabit our dreams and folktales by peering through different lenses to explore the beauty, monstrousness and magic of these creatures. THE BEAUTIFUL BEAST is a spectacle of stories, fantastically brought to life using gigantic puppets, elaborate masks, many legged stilt walkers, multi person marionettes and shadow puppetry. All these elements are woven together with live original music.

How do we decide what is beautiful and what is a beast? Where do monsters come from? And who are the true monsters of our modern world? In this year’s show Paperhand invites you to think, feel, and explore these questions by illuminating ancient stories, digging through myths and legends, and looking closely at our relationship with the idea of monsters and beasts, the wild, and our own humanity. With a cast of 20+ puppeteers and 6 musicians, including renowned violinist/composer Jennifer Curtis, this year’s performance promises to be an extraordinary performance for all ages you won't want to miss!

The Carolina PlayMakers were a campus-based theatre group that originated in 1918. Founded by Frederick Koch, the Carolina PlayMakers became a nationally recognized ensemble with the purpose of developing new playwriting talent. The company played an important role in the development of American folk drama and provided a training ground for generations of theatre artists. Today, the UNC-based Playmakers Repertory Company carries on the name and traditions of the theatre group that had its beginnings at the Forest Theatre.

The Forest Theatre has long been a favorite site for theatrical and musical performances. We are thrilled to have such a landmark and icon of the University campus within the administration of the Garden. Those interested in reserving the site for a production or performance, please read our Policies for Productions at Forest Theatre.

The Forest Theatre is currently booking weddings from mid-May through July (Note: ceremony only; no receptions). Please review the Forest Theatre Wedding Policies and Procedures [PDF]. If you have any additional questions, or would like to reserve the location for your wedding, please contact the Event Manager directly.

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Updated on July 22, 2016 at 11:09:22 am.