Currently, Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre is being presented by Studio 1. Its community is bringing about a Renaissance to the site. The campus of Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre holds the Wilson Amphitheater, a craft walk with buildings built with local wood and historical buildings sprinkled across the site. Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre is the home of “Pathway to Freedom” and “The Sword of Peace”, both plays about the rich history of Snow Camp.
250 years ago, the Quakers migrated from the North to Alamance County, for newer and cheaper land as well as religious reasons. They settled in a large area by Cane Creek near where the theater resides today. Every month they would hold a meeting, which came to grow exponentially over time, having members traveling great distances just to join. This community came to be known as the “Cane Creek People” and would later call the building they met at the “Cane Creek Meeting House”. They defined themselves as being opposed to war. They primarily consisted of business men, and had access to many goods. Due to the Quaker influences, however, they were strict in many facets of life. It was common for people to be shunned or disowned if they did not obey the Quaker social norms. Some of these included abstaining from excessive eating, drinking, smoking, and adorning decorations on plain clothing. The third meeting house later burned down in 1879, and the brick house that replaced it also burned down in 1942.
The community of Snow Camp was initially called Cane Creek but the origin of the name is disputed. One story is that before the American Revolution a group of hunters camped there during a snowfall, and survived to the next day, giving its name. However, most residents insist that General Cornwallis camped there [Snow Camp] during a snowfall around the time of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse while on his way back to Fayetteville. Two minor American Revolution battles occurred in Snow Camp and it was also a place for freedom seekers during the time of the underground railroad. There were at least four safe houses in the town, one of them including the Quaker meeting house by the site.
The Snow Camp Historical Drama Society to Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre
1971 to 2017
The Snow Camp Historical Drama Society was founded in 1971 with the purpose of popularizing the heritage of the Quakers in Cane Creek, now known as Snow Camp, and the surrounding area. In 1972, James Wilson and his brother Bobby decided to build the Wilson Amphitheater (on the banks of the Cane Creek), deciding that outdoor historical drama was the best way to use the society and enrich the community. They knew that they could have just as easily built the theater in the nearby city of Burlington, but decided that the rural setting is what makes the experience felt. The first play at the theater was “The Sword of Peace” by William Hardy. The play accounts for the life of Simon Dixon, who is considered to be the founder of Snow Camp, and how the Revolutionary War took a toll on both him and the town. There were often live animals on stage throughout the play and even a cannon fire at a few points during battle scenes. Another featured play, “The Pathway to Freedom” tells the story of people who had helped slaves escape from the South up to the North in the 1840s and 1850s. Since the inception, a Wilson family member has been featured in every show. The Wilson family was instrumental in the continued success at the theatre.
The history of Snow Camp was brought to life daily by the Snow Camp Historical Society and Snow Camp Outdoor Drama. Up until 2017, the outdoor drama hosted two feature productions every summer, “The Sword of Peace” and “The Pathway to Freedom”, as well as the productions of the Children’s Theater that had successful productions such as “Puss and Boots” and many others.
The Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre Renaissance
2021 to Now
Currently, Studio 1 has adopted Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre as a subsidiary to bring about a renaissance to the area. The subsidiary board adopted the campus in July 2021. Volunteers have spent many hours cleaning, renovating, and promoting Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre so the public’s attention can be inspired to come out to the area once again. Through the support of the local community members financial support and physical labor, Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre has been able to host their first event in December 2021 called “Hold You In The Light a Festival of Lights”. A commemoration to the Quaker community in their belief of “holding you in the light.” Due to the great success, the Snow camp Outdoor Theatre board of directors have planned this to be an annual event.
The plan for the immediate future of Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre is to continue the historical plays of “Pathway to Freedom” and “The Sword of Peace”, add annual events like spring and fall festivals, establish and continue Firefly Children’s Theatre, have summer camps, establish and continue efforts for Shakespeare Festival and host several theatrical productions. There is a rich history at Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre, and we ask that while you are watching plays, or walking the grounds at one of the festivals, you take a moment and recognize that you are where the Quaker’s of years past had once been.