The city lacked proper space for theater until the Carolina Theatre opened in 1926 and welcomed touring productions, drawing crowds with such actresses as Katherine Hepburn and Tallulah Bankhead. Famed African-American playwright Zora Neale Hurston came to town to teach drama for a year at North Carolina Central University.
Lisa Harris Hampton in a 1986 production of Purlie at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). The National Association of Schools of Theatre accredited NCCU’s program in 1997, making it the only nationally accredited theater school in the Triangle. (courtesy Department of Theatre, NCCU)
In 1968 the Duke University Union began its Broadway at Duke Series, filling the professional theater void.
In 1987 Manbites Dog Theater — “alternative theater with a bite” —opened as a professional venue for experimental new scripts.
Duke University’s Hoof ’n’ Horn, stages CanCan. Established in 1941, Hoof ’n’ Horn is the oldest student-run musical organization in the South. (courtesy Duke University Archives)
Of Mules and Men, adapted from a Zora Neale Hurston book and produced by Randolph Umberger at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in 1991, won the national American College Theatre Festival award over 850 other entries. (courtesy Department of Theatre, NCCU)