Parkway Playhouse

Things To Do In The Smoky Mountains

Photo credit Parkway Playhouse website

Hosting events such as concerts, weddings, receptions, family reunions, trade shows, theater, and more

The Parkway Playhouse, a historic theater in Burnsville, North Carolina, holds the distinction of being the oldest continually operating summer theater in the state. Founded in 1947 by Dr. William Raymond Taylor, a professor of drama at Woman’s College in Greensboro, North Carolina (now the University of North Carolina-Greensboro), the playhouse has a rich history in the performing arts. For many years, it operated as a summer stock venue and was a sponsored extension of the drama departments at UNC-Greensboro and the University of Miami. By the 1990s, Parkway Playhouse transitioned into an independent theater company and now serves as a small professional theater company catering to the mountain region of Western North Carolina. The playhouse is located in the former Burnsville High School Gymnasium within the Yancey Collegiate Institute Historic District​​.

The mission of Parkway Playhouse is to strengthen the local community by using the performing arts to uplift and unite neighbors and to inspire new ways of looking at the world. As a teaching theater, it plays a crucial role in educating young and potential theater professionals while also serving as a gathering space for the community at large. The Playhouse is committed to inspiring, educating, and entertaining through all its activities, positioning itself as an integral part of the cultural fabric of Burnsville and its surrounding areas​​.

Today, Parkway Playhouse continues to thrive in the Appalachian Mountains, producing mainstage productions during the summer and offering theater education opportunities throughout the year. The 2023 season is marked with pride as the playhouse is set to produce four mainstage productions, host a series of summer camps, teach conservatory classes, perform “Reading is Alive” around Western North Carolina, and introduce the Appalachian Playwriting Festival for the first time. These diverse offerings underscore the playhouse’s ongoing commitment to enriching the arts and culture of the region​​.

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