Concurrent with each mainstage production, Burning Coal will present one or more lectures conducted by guest scholars on topics central to the theme of the play being presented. These lectures will be presented at 6:00 pm prior to the play performance and will be free to anyone holding a reservation for any performance of the play (limited seating – availability on first come, first served basis).

Marriage in the Age of Shakespeare

Jan 31, 2015

Lecture by Matthew Lubin & Ian Finley

Prior to  

Romeo & Juliet

Join Burning Coal for a pre-show discussion with two scholars in the field, Matthew Lubin (Duke) and Ian Finley, Burning Coal’s director of education from 2003 to 2011.  Where exactly did our idea of marriage come from?  And how long has it been around?

Matthew Lubin (Duke University History Department) will speak about how scholars think marriage and family feuds actually worked in late medieval Verona, the setting for Romeo and Juliet.

Ian Finley (Piedmont Laureate, 2012) will explore Shakespeare’s use of rhetoric and how it reveals the marital tensions and family dynamics of the play.

[Free with ticket to any performance of ROMEO & JULIET ($5 otherwise)]


Past Productions & Events

The following shows/events have passed.


How Conflict Resolution Works or Falls Apart

Burning Coal Theatre Company welcomes Robert (Bob) M. Jenkins, Ph.D., Director of the UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies for a discussion entitled How Conflict Resolution Works or Falls Apart.  This 50 minute discussion is open to anyone with a ticket for any performance of the Iron Curtain Trilogy ($5 for others).  NOTE: This event will take place on Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 12:30 pm at the Iron Curtain Trilogy Warehouse, 117 S. West Street, Raleigh.

Listening to the Place

Burning Coal Theatre Company welcomes Andrea F. Bohlman, Ph.D., UNC-CH Assistant Professor of Music for a pre-show discussion entitled Listening to the Place.  This 50 minute discussion is open to anyone with a ticket for any performance of the Iron Curtain Trilogy ($5 for others).  NOTE: This event will take place on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 12:30 pm at the Iron Curtain Trilogy Warehouse, 117 S. West Street, Raleigh.

Memory of a Multiethnic Past in Post-Communist Eastern Europe

Burning Coal Theatre Company welcomes University of North Carolina Department of History professor Karen Auerbach for a pre-show discussion entitled Memory of a Multiethnic Past in Post-Communist Eastern Europe.  This 50 minute discussion is open to anyone with a ticket for any performance of the Iron Curtain Trilogy ($5 for others).  NOTE: This event will take place on Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm at the Iron Curtain Trilogy Warehouse, 117 S. West Street, Raleigh.

Professor Auerbach’s research focuses on the social history of Polish Jews in the nineteenth and twentieth century, especially issues relating to Jewish integration, urban life, and the evolution of Polish Jewish identifications. Her first book, published in 2013, is a microhistory of Jewish families who were neighbors in an apartment building in Warsaw after the Holocaust, exploring the reconstruction of communities and identifications in postwar Poland. She is currently researching the history of Jewish publishers of Polish books in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, in particular their involvement in Polish cultural, social and political circles, as well as information networks and the history of Yiddish in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust. Auerbach’s teaching focuses on modern Jewish history, East European Jewish History and the Holocaust. (information obtained from UNC Department of History’s website)

Musicologist and Author of Violins of Hope

Apr 12, 2014

Lecture by Dr. James A. Grymes

Internationally regarded musicologist Dr. James A. Grymes of Charlotte, NC will speak on Saturday, April 12th at 6 pm about his soon to be published book Violins of Hope.  Tickets are $5 at the door or FREE for anyone holding a ticket to any performance of Burning Coal’s The Diary of Anne Frank (April 3 – 27).  The talk will take place at Burning Coal’s theatre, 224 Polk Street, Raleigh, NC.  For details, please call 919.834.4001.

James A. Grymes is an internationally respected musicologist, a critically acclaimed author, and a dynamic speaker who has addressed audiences at settings ranging from prestigious academic conferences to significant public venues such as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. Dr. Grymes is Professor of Musicology and Interim Chair of the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 

A leading authority on the Hungarian musician Ernst von Dohnányi, a forgotten hero of the Holocaust resistance who was later falsely accused of Nazi war crimes, Dr. Grymes is currently writing a book titled Violins of Hope.  A stirring testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of music, Violins of Hope tells the remarkable stories of violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust and the Israeli violinmaker dedicated to bringing these inspirational instruments back to life.  Violins of Hope will be published by HarperCollins in August 2014.

Rise of the Puppets

Dec 14, 2013

Lecture by Pamela Shook

Prior to  

(Three Man) Tempest

Burning Coal Theatre Company will hold its second “Lobby Lecture” of the 2013/2014 season, “Rise of the Puppets”, which will feature Pamela Shook of Blue Moon Puppets speaking on “The Rise of Puppetry as a Popular Art Form”, in conjunction with its current production, (Three Man) Tempest by William Shakespeare. The event will take place at 6 pm on Saturday, December 14th, 2013 at Burning Coal Theatre, 224 Polk Street, Raleigh. Tickets are $5 or free to anyone holding a ticket to any performance of (Three Man) Tempest and may be obtained at the door only.

(Three Man) Tempest continues its run at Burning Coal Theatre from December 5 – 22, 2013. 

Pamela Shook began her puppetry career with Atlanta’s Piccadilly Puppets in 1988. She found her way into puppetry through children’s theatre, and discovered that through this one magical medium, she could develop all her passions: acting, writing, music and visual arts. For six years she performed with Piccadilly while freelancing with other Atlanta theatres and puppet companies, including the Center for Puppetry Arts. In 1994, while performing with Suzy Ferriss at the Henson International Festival of Puppetry in NYC, she decided to start Blue Moon Puppets with her husband, fellow puppeteer Stephen Clifford.

Blue Moon (named during an actual blue moon)has been touring since 1995, performing multicultural and science-based children’s shows at festivals, libraries, schools and museums. Pamela and Stephen have appeared at venues from Piccolo Spoleto to the Kennedy Center. Pamela has also created custom puppets for theatres, film and video across the Southeast. This year, she wrote, produced, and created puppets for five puppet shows for Discovery Place museum in Charlotte, and helped train their staff to perform these permanent shows.

Global Climate Change Panel Discussion

Sep 21, 2013

Prior to  The Heretic

Burning Coal Theatre Company will hold its first “Lobby Lecture” of the 2013/2014 season, a panel discussion on the subject of global climate change, in conjunction with its current production, The Heretic by Richard Bean. The event will take place at 6 pm on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Burning Coal Theatre, 224 Polk Street, Raleigh.  Tickets are $5 or free to anyone holding a ticket to any performance of The Heretic

The Heretic continues its run at Burning Coal Theatre Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. All tickets to The Heretic are $25, $20 for seniors (65+), $15 for students and $15 or everyone on Thursday nights, and may be obtained by calling 919.834.4001 or visiting    


Anant Aiyyer is a professor of Atmospheric Science at North Carolina State University. His research areas include weather systems of the tropics (e.g., Hurricanes) and climate variability. He has a PhD from the State University of New York and a Master’s degree in Physics from Indian Institute of Technology. He was born in a suburb of New Delhi but now Carrboro, NC is his home.

Liz Kazal is the Field Associate for Environment North Carolina, a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy group. Her primary focus is protecting our clean waters from the threats of the dangerous form of natural gas drilling known as fracking. This summer, she directed Environment North Carolina’s citizen outreach efforts and mobilized over 10,000 North Carolinians to take action to promote healthy, sustainable farms. Liz is originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and is a graduate of the MS School for Math and Science and Mississippi State University. In college, she was the founder of her campus environmental group and worked to pass the first clean energy student initiative on campus.

Aaron Newman is a student at Duke University studying Environmental Engineering and Cultural Anthropology. As a student and member of the next generation of youth, he has taken on the responsibility of learning how to effectively adapt to and combat climate change through research, speaking to peers, and participating in and leading environmental seminars and projects. In this way, he aims to promote the movement towards minimizing climate change in the coming decades. His greatest interests reside in learning about and collaborating to design environmental solutions that are culturally and economically appropriate for developing countries.

Paul Reid

Jan 31, 2013

Lecture by Paul Reid

Prior to  


After stints in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a worker in a cat-food factory, blue-grass guitarist, cab driver, bartender, and counselor at a home for emotionally disturbed children, Paul Reid and his brother bought a small steam-valve manufacturing business in Newtonville, Mass. In the early 1990s, after selling his share of the company, Reid began writing political commentary for local Massachusetts newspapers, which led to a regular op-ed column at the Boston Globe. As a free-lance writer he covered the Yugoslav civil war, narco-terrorism in Colombia, and the Troubles in Northern Ireland.  He graduated from Harvard University Extension School in 1990 with a bachelor of Liberal Arts cum laude.  In 1996 Reid joined The Palm Beach Post, a Cox newspaper, as a features writer.  

Reid was named 1998 Cox Newspapers writer of the year and won the 1998 Paul Hansell award, given by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, for reporting and writing. In 2003 he was embedded with United States Marines at the start of the Iraq War.  In 2004 he left the Post to complete THE LAST LION: Defender of the Realm.

Paul lives in western North Carolina.

A popular novelist, historian, and biographer who, according to the New York Times, “used his novelist’s eye to fashion meticulously researched portraits of power,” William Manchester (1922–2004) was also the adjunct professor of history and writer-in-residence at Wesleyan University. “Power is the one thing that has fascinated me ever since I was a kid in Springfield, Mass.,” he told People magazine. “What exactly is power? Where are its roots? How do some people get it and others miss it entirely? How do they hold it or lose it?”

Manchester’s attention to detail was what made his works so successful. Many of his eighteen books of fiction and nonfiction were bestsellers, including The Arms of Krupp (about the German family that fed the Nazi War Machine),American Caesar (his biography of Gen. Douglas MacArthur), The Death of a President (on the assassination of John F. Kennedy), Goodbye Darkness (his memoir of his World War II experiences as a Marine in the Pacific), A World Lit Only by Fire (an exploration of the sordidness and the splendor of the Middle Ages), and the first two volumes of his Winston Churchill trilogy, The Last Lion. The final volume was published by Little, Brown on November 6, 2012 and written by Manchester and Paul Reid.

Manchester was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts, in 1922, and he joined the Marines in 1942. For wounds received on Okinawa, he was given the Purple Heart. After the war, he graduated first in his class from the University of Massachusetts, and received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri. Manchester’s thesis was on H. L. Mencken, and it became the basis of his first biography, Disturber of the Peace, published while he was a local reporter and foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun.

Manchester received the Prix Dag Hammarskjöld du mérite littéraire, James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award for distinguished writing, the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award, the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence, and the National Humanities Medal for his distinguished career. 

Shakespeare’s Clowns

Dec 8, 2012

Lecture by Ian Finley

Prior to  As You Like It

Ian Finley, current Piedmont Laureate will speak on Shakespeare’s comedies and clowns, from early period bawdy commedia to later, graceful tragicomedies.

Ian Finley is a playwright and director, and the 2012 Piedmont Laureate.  He is the author of several productions, most notably THE NATURE OF THE NAUTILUS (winner of the 2002 Kennedy Center’s Jean Kennedy Smith Award), 1960, and most recently a two-part adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s JUDE THE OBSCURE which premiered this past April at Burning Coal.  He has taught at Southern Methodist University, lectured on Shakespeare at NC State, Duke University and dozens of area schools.  In January, he will directed C.P. Taylor’s Good for Burning Coal. 

Conor McPherson’s Place in Irish Dramatic Literature

Nov 10, 2012

Lecture by Karen O'Brien

Prior to  Shining City

Karen O’Brien of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Dramatic Art speaking on the playwright Conor McPherson’s place in Irish Dramatic Literature. 

Karen O’Brien is assistant professor in Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She frequently presents research on Irish drama at national conferences, and her publications include interdisciplinary articles and reviews on Irish literature, theatre, and culture in a wide range of professional journals and collections. Karen is currently working on her book manuscript, which explores the plays of Irish writers Marina Carr and Conor McPherson. She holds a MFA in Directing from University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and a Ph.D. in Drama from University of California at Irvine.