Barter Theatre - Gilliam Stage

Founded in 1933, Barter Theatre is one of the nation’s oldest professional non-profit theatres. During the height of the Great Depression, successful actor and native son Robert Porterfield returned to Southwest Virginia with an ambitious plan. He would start a professional theatre and barter theatre tickets for food. His early slogan was “With vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh.”

After early success that no one could have predicted, Barter Theatre went on to thrive, gaining a national reputation as a vibrant and exciting regional theatre. Barter Theatre was named the State Theatre of Virginia, the first theatre to ever earn that designation. Many famous actors first performed at Barter Theatre before they went on to achieve fame and fortune. Barter's best known alumni include: Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, Hume Cronyn, Ned Beatty, Gary Collins, David Birney, and Larry Linville.

Now, more than 80 years later, Barter continues to produce a variety of musicals, classics, comedies, dramas and new southern and Appalachian plays. With two unique venues, the historic Barter main stage and the more intimate Barter Stage II, Barter Theatre offers something for everyone. See a production and learn why so many people have made Barter Theatre a tradition for 80 years.

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