Barter Theatre Archives


Barter Theatre Archives


This collection contains highlights of the Barter Theatre Archives from Abingdon, Virginia. The Barter Theatre has been a cultural mainstay in southwestern Virginia since its beginning in 1933 when Robert Porterfield, a charismatic young actor and southwest Virginia native, brought a group of professional actors to Abingdon. Opening in the midst of the Great Depression, the theatre got its name from its practice of allowing audiences to barter food for admission to the theatre. From humble beginnings, Barter put down roots in the small community of Abingdon, establishing a reputation for providing performances of the highest artistic quality.

Barter is proud of its storied history, having launched the careers of many well-known actors including; Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, Hume Cronyn, Ned Beatty, Gary Collins, Larry Linville, and David Birney. Today, Barter continues to fulfill its guiding principle - that people of all ages and from all walks of life hunger for, and deserve access to, the life-changing experiences provided by live theatre. By tapping into the stories and the spirit of the region’s people, Barter’s passionate professional artists and leaders, and its educational mission have improved perceptions of the region, placing it at the forefront of Appalachian art and culture.

Barter is the premiere tourist attraction in southwest Virginia, drawing an average of 160,000 patrons annually. Barter offers a repertory schedule of 19 productions and 12 Barter Player productions for children annually. In addition, Barter tours its productions throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia serving approximately 35,000 students in the past year. Central to Barter’s mission is the use of theatre as a vehicle for education, with a special emphasis on reaching those who otherwise are not exposed to the performing arts. In 2015, Barter’s unduplicated educational initiatives—student matinees, school tours, the Young Playwrights’ Festival, Barter Youth Academy, and Project REAL—helped more than 68,000 children in rural Appalachia experience the transformative power of the arts.

All images were digitized by Virginia Tech University Libraries.



Collection Items

Golden Lantern by M.K. Stewart and Rebecca Franklin
Poster for M. K. Stewart and Rebecca Franklin's The Golden Lantern. Aug 26-31.

Re-Opening Abingdon, VA: Barter, the State Theatre of Virginia
Poster announcing the re-opening of the Barter Theatre. June 9 1947.

Barter Theatre: April thru September
Poster displaying times of day, week, and month the Barter Theatre is open. April-Sep.

Arms and the Man
Poster for the plays Arms and the Man, Feb 1| Much Ado About Nothing, Feb 3, at Florida State College.

Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw
Production poster for the play Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, Jan 6 at Meredith College.

See How They Run by Philip King
Production poster for the plays See How They Run by Philip King, Aug 13-15 |Some Sweet Day by Anne W. Armstrong Aug 16-18.

My 3 Angels
Production poster for the plays My 3 Angels, Aug 16-17, 1954 | The 13 Clocks, Aug 18, 1954 | Macbeth, Aug 19-21, 1954.

Diary of Anne Frank
Production poster for the play the Diary of Anne Frank, May 6-31.

Light Up the Sky by Moss Hart
Production poster for Moss Hart's Light Up the Sky, Aug 19- Sep 7, 1975.

Skin of Our Teeth [by] Thornton Wilder
Production poster for the Barter Theatre. Programs: Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder, starring Herbert Nelson and Joan DeWeese. Aug 29-Sep 3 | The Boy Friend, Aug 21-27.

No Exit [by] Jean Paul Sartre
Production poster for the plays directed by Rocco Bufano: No Exit, Jean Paul Sartre | Bald Soprano, Eugene Ionesco. June 18-23.

Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm so Sad [by] Arthur L. Kopit
Production poster for Arthur L Kopit's Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm so Sad. Actors include Elizabeth Wilson, Jerry Oddo, Jane Cronin, Ian Wilder. Directed by Edwin Wilson. Opening the 32nd season of the Barter Theatre. June…

Five Finger Exercise
Production poster for the play Five Finger Exercise. Directed by Jerry Hardin. Actors include Robert Pastene and Rusti Moon. June 18-31.

Desire Under the Elms [by] Eugene O'Neill
Production poster for Desire under the Elms by Owen Phillips. Directed by Owen Phillips. Oct 7-19.

Barter Children's Theater
Production poster for the plays Young Abe Lincoln | Bremen Town Musicians | Beauty and the Best | Frog Prince | Rip Van Winkle | Brer Rabbit. Children's classics set to music and performed by Barter Players in Barter Playhouse. July 1-31.

Thirteen Clocks [by] James Thurber
Production poster for James Thurber's Thirteen Clocks with Pierre Olaf, Aug 20-23 | Five Finger Exercise, Aug 24-25 | An evening of plays by Tennessee Williams, Aug 20-23.

Queen and the Rebels [by] Ugo Betti
Production poster for Ugo Betti's Queen and the Rebels with Jane Cronin, July 20-25.

Production poster for Knack directed by Clinton Atkinson, Sep 21-Oct 3.

Come Blow Your Horn by Neil Simon
Production poster for the comedy Come Blow Your Horn by Neil Simon, June 10-15.

Two for the Seesaw [by] William Gibson
Production poster for William Gibson's Two for the Seesaw with Robert Pastene and Marcie Hubert, July 6-9 | Fallen Angels, July 5.
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