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Learn More About the Peacock Performing Arts Center in Hayesville!

The center is Hayesville, North Carolina's hidden gem.

Learn More About the Peacock Performing Arts Center in Hayesville!

Hayesville, North Carolina is a charming, historic, mountain town with a population of less than 400. Anchored by an old town square, it offers the sort of attractive shops and eateries one might expect to find in this type of scenic, Sunday drive destination. But just a few blocks from Main Street, Hayesville holds an unusual surprise--the Peacock Performing Arts Center, a venue that looks as it if had been plucked from the arts district of a large metropolitan city.

That impressive theater in this unlikely place was the dream of a beloved local benefactor named Lillith Lidseen. Though Lidseen passed away before the phrase, "Build it and they will come" entered the zeitgeist, that same sensibility led her to envision and subsidize The Peacock Playhouse.

Learn More About the Peacock Performing Arts Center in Hayesville!
Lillith Lidseen (1904-1987)

Described as "part Auntie Mame and part Noel Coward sophisticate," Lidseen didn't live quite long enough to see the building completed, but from the time it opened in the 1980s, a talented succession of locals and transplants have seen to it that her dreams were not merely fulfilled, but exceeded.

Today this full-on performing arts center draws a local audience as well as people from as far away as Atlanta. During the summer, tourists and summer residents double the attendance, and the momentum continues to grow . . . .

One of the most powerful forces behind the Peacock's longstanding growth and success is Resident Artistic Director, Laurel Adams, who relocated from Los Angeles in 1997, bringing industry experience, talent, and drive. Adams holds an MFA in Theatre Arts as well as a PhD abd in Stage Movement. After spending a summer as an artist in residence at the Peacock, Adams decided to buy a summer home in the area. Next, a nearby school district asked her to establish a drama program. That offer piqued her interest, and she decided to stay. After retiring from the school district, she became fully involved with The Peacock.

Learn More About the Peacock Performing Arts Center in Hayesville!
Laurel Adams

Adams says what she loves most about the center is its uniqueness. "It's an intimate theatre, with only 250 seats, yet it has a fly loft and all the elements of a big-city theatre," she explains.

When Adams first arrived, the Peacock produced six or seven plays per year, leaning toward the traditional family fare of musicals and farces. Today, in addition to presenting a wider spectrum of plays, the Peacock is a venue for concerts, variety shows, a Singer/Songwriter series for local talent, ballroom dance classes, acting workshops, and a summer kids' camp.

"We have begun to include at least one groundbreaking play per season," Adams says. "We just created a wonderful new series for local writers, Scribes on Stage. "That program is designed to give local writers a chance to see their work on stage in workshop format." That new venture is in collaboration with Mountain Area Storytellers and NC Writers Network-West.

One of the driving forces behind Scribes on Stage is Actor, Director, and Playwright, Ryan Hunter, who fell in love with the performing arts as a second grader in a Peacock Playhouse production. Hunter grew up performing on that stage each summer until he went to away college to study Mass Communication. He returned to the area in 2015 and is now the Vice President of the organization's Board.

"I really do think that The Peacock Performing Arts Center opens up a world to the community that many might not have otherwise realize existed," Hunter says. "Just watching a show in the theater, I see people inspired in a way that they could never be watching a movie. For those who are actually involved in a production, they have an opportunity to meet with people who have real experience in the industry, and people who have lived lives they'd never considered. They grow from that."

Hunter goes on to emphasize that people are the Peacock's driving force."Jim Kumas, the president of our board, has worked tirelessly to bring a variety of entertainment to our small town. Laurel Adams has dedicated herself to elevating the acting on that stage to a level unheard of in a community theater environment. But there are so many others who have given so much of their time to bring the arts to life. Our actors, costumers, and volunteers are beyond generous with their time and energy, simply for the love of it. There's a board member, Kathy DeMaio Wood who, among many other things, coordinates our volunteers."

When asked if he takes the local talent pool into account when writing for The Peacock, Hunter says, "I'm very comfortable believing that these fantastic actors can handle anything I throw at them."

Like Hunter, Jim Kumas, president of the Board of Directors credits the Peacock's success to its people, most notably Laurel Adams. "She has dedicated her heart and soul to our theater and works tirelessly to make things happen," he says."We would not be where we are without her guidance and leadership."

Kumas shares his colleagues' dedication to expanding and diversifying the Peacock's programming. "I try to bring talent to the theater that our community has not experienced like the Song Writer Showcase series that brings up-and-coming artists to our area that people would otherwise never be exposed to, unless they traveled a few hours. I have gravitated towards 'tribute' bands to provide our patrons with acts that will bring back memories and would be out of reach if we tried to bring the original act to the theater. They're usually a sell-out," he says.

Learn More About the Peacock Performing Arts Center in Hayesville! He then adds, "Having this theater in our community has allowed our children to experience what live plays and concerts are. While the majority of our patrons are older adults, we have a very diverse demographic that are enthusiastic and appreciative of the productions we present."

Hunter adds, "I want people to know that this center is there for them. Be they audience or participant, they will walk away from their experience at The Peacock Performing Arts Center inspired, excited, and changed in a way they never expected."

Now that Covid has lifted, The Peacock is open at full capacity, and enthusiasm for its shows is at an all time high.

"Patrons are anxious to get out and do something," Kumas says. "Our first non-restricted concert Sail On - A Beach Boys Tribute was a complete sell out. I see this happening for the rest of this year."

"Spread the word that we're back!" Adams adds. "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!"

To learn more about the Peacock Performing Arts Center, visit:

The Peacock Performing Arts Center
301 Church Street
Hayesville, NC 28904

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