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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Carolina Playmakers

In 1919, professor of dramatic literature Frederick H. Koch founded the Carolina Playmakers, a theatre group dedicated to the writing and performance of folk plays—plays focused on ordinary life in North Carolina.

Many of the students involved with the Playmakers' debut productions (shown in the playbill) went on to achieve great acclaim. Thomas Wolfe became a renowned author whose works are now classics. Elizabeth Lay later collaborated with her husband and fellow Playmaker Paul Green on numerous works. George Denny produced and hosted the national radio program America's Town Meeting of the Air. Jonathan Daniels served as press secretary to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman before assuming the editorship of his family's newspaper, The News and Observer of Raleigh.

Andy Griffith, who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1949, appeared in several performances by the Playmakers—once as Ko-Ko, Lord High Executioner of Titipu, in The Mikado (pictured) and later as Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore.