Washington County VA

Barter Theatre celebrates 80 years

Barter Theatre's birthday

ABINGDON, Va. - There was a big birthday bash in Abingdon Monday night and the Barter Theatre took center stage.

The local landmark is celebrating 80 years of entertaining the community.

"Over 160,000 people come here every year because we run all year. There are two plays over here and there are a couple of plays across the street," said one of Barter Theatre's resident actors Michael Poisson, who has been with Barter for 12 seasons.

"We absolutely love the Barter and especially the Barter Player shows. It presents the theatre to the children.  It shows them how to have theatre etiquette and then we absolutely love the show and they have the Barter Academy," said mother of three Shannon Don.

Abingdon Mayor Ed Morgan declared June 10, 2013 Barter Theatre Day.

"It's just a lot of fun to the see the people react to the shows," said Iris Pollack, a Barter volunteer. "And when they come out they're always telling you how great it was or it wasn't that good, whatever but I worked Saturday and everybody was like so up about the show Les Miserable, they loved it."

"Thank you Robert Porterfield, who founded this place 80 years ago because none of us would be here without this incredible idea," said Poisson.    

The Barter Theatre has $1.75 million left to raise for its capital campaign. The money will renovate living quarters for the actors and other artists -- the housing has not been substantially renovated in 100 years.

Windows are not insulated and bathrooms have 100-year-old fixtures.

Some of the fundraising will also go to update the workshops in Barter Theatre's production building. These spaces are cramped, poorly lit and have holes in the flooring.

Barter officials say since 98 percent of what you see on stage is made right at Barter, which greatly affects the artists behind the scenes.

If you are interested in learning more about how to help and to get an exclusive behind the scenes tour of these facilities, contact Katherine Foreman at (276) 619-3304.

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