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.

Puppet of the 2017 performance

Take courage! Do not despair.

Paperhand Puppet Intervention presents its 18th annual giant puppet theatre pageant "OF WINGS AND FEET". Join us this summer for a whimsical, paradoxical juxtaposition of myriad forms and flights of fancy. Everything moves! And yes, we move. Forward hopefully.

Spend an enchanted evening discovering what it means to be human...when you're a bird. Or, a turtle. Help humanity find its unique place in the world by joining the Circus of Beginnings and Ends. Witness the magic and mystery of the living land, sea, and sky in an epic spectacle of struggle and resistance for our times. See, hear, and feel all this and more at our 18th annual giant puppet extravaganza for all!

Using masks, big puppets, stilts, painted cardboard, shadows and illumination, Paperhand explores story, reflects on life's mysteries, deepens our connection, and inspires young and old. An all new original score by an all-star Paperhand band with Shana Tucker, Beverly Botsford, Jonathan Henderson, Will Ridenour, Quran Kerriem, "pro" Pete Lewis!
Now is the time to decide wether you can make a difference. Come see the show!



Romeo and Juliet

Romeo & Juliet is the timeless tale of two young lovers torn apart by the feud between their families, the Capulets and Montagues. Bare Theatre's production will embrace an outdoor setting, epic sword fights, and lavish, Elizabethan costumes similar to how the play would have been performed at Shakespeare's Globe Theater. The classic tale of two families that cannot find compromise, even at the expense of the lives of their children, resonates with modern day struggles, and speaks to the terrible costs of such division within our communities.

Performance Dates: 9/30-10/1, 10/8, 10/15, 10/21, 10/22 at 2:00 pm; plus one student matinee on Thursday 10/12, 10:30 am. Questions? Click here to visit the Bare Theatre website.


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.

Check out Forest Theatre on Facebook.

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