In 2014, Barter Theatre opened the doors for its 81st season, marking it as one of the longest running professional Equity theatres in the United States. Distinguished as the State Theatre of Virginia, Barter is the premiere tourist attraction in southwest Virginia consistently drawing over 160,000 patrons annually. Under the leadership of Richard Rose, Barter’s Producing Artistic Director, Barter produces 19 full productions a year in repertory on its two stages in Abingdon, Virginia. The quality of production and essential economic, educational and cultural opportunities provided by Barter have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. In 1979, Barter received the first ever Governor’s Award for Excellence in Arts. It was the first in the nation to be awarded the Antoinette Perry “Tony” Award for its role in the regional theatre movement. In 1996, Barter received the Tri-Cities Business of the Year Award, the only non-profit to earn this recognition. In the last five years, Barter has been recognized time and again for both its productions and contributions to the community, including receiving the Virginia Torchbearer Award, a Blue Ridge Travel Association award for its contributions to the local economy, and two Shining Star Awards from Virginians for the Arts. Barter Theatre’s Education Programs have grown to provide world-class professional theatre to over 40,000 students annually. Educational initiatives include The Barter Players, Student Matinees, Young Playwright’s Festival, Project REAL and Barter’s Youth Academy.
For Shakespeare in American Communities, Barter Theatre will present student matinees of Hamlet directed Artistic Director Katy Brown, as part of their The Bard at the Barter program. The company will provide related educational activities, including workshops and a study guide. They anticipate reaching 14 schools from Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.