The Carolina Playmakers was the name for the drama program and the faculty, staff, students, and community members who staged plays at the university. The Playmakers started in 1918 with the arrival of Frederick Henry Koch, a professor from the University of North Dakota. Koch had developed a type of playwriting he called "folk drama" that focused on local themes and ordinary people. The Carolina Playmakers staged original plays on campus and on tour, traveling as far as New York and visiting the White House. The Playmakers published four books of student folk plays in the 1920s, as well as a theater journal, the Carolina Play-Book, from 1922 to 1944.
A number of well-known North Carolina writer and theater artists came from the Carolina Playmakers, including Bernice Kelly Harris, Thomas Wolfe, Paul Green, his wife Elizabeth Lay Green, Andy Griffith, and Louise Fletcher. Smith Hall was renamed Playmakers Theatre in the 1920s when it became the new home for the program, and in the 1970s PlayMakers Repertory Company adopted a variation of the name as a tribute to the earlier group.
Date Established: 1919
Date Range: 1919 – Present