The show must go on: Barter begins performances at Moonlite Theatre


ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) — Tough times bring people together.

“I think we were almost as excited to see other people as we were to see the play,”

The Barter Theatre in Abingdon opened in 1933, bringing people together during the Great Depression.

“What a staple the Barter is in this community,”

Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s still bringing people together; just add a few extra feet.

“Befitting the Barter legacy to take this confusing, scary, uncertain time and say ok we’re gonna figure out a way to do theatre in a way that’s high quality and an awesome experience and is safe all the way,” Barter Theatre ?? Morgan Egan said.

They can’t sit together at the indoor theater, so they’re parking together at an old drive-in theater.

With the help of some sponsors, Barter is renting the old Moonlite Theatre right down the road.

“To come here to the drive-in, to do an outdoor event, to see the stage built and really to put life back into this drive-in theater, it’s just really neat,” Food City CEO Steve Smith said.

The patrons can social distance but that’s a bit difficult for the crew to accomplish. That’s why they call themselves the “Quaran-team.”

“Found actors who were willing to come down here and go through weekly COVID testing so that they could safely be with each other and create theater even in this time,” Egan said.

It’s what the Barter Theatre has done best for going on nine decades: sparking this community’s imagination in a variety of tough times.

“It’s uplifting to just remember what it is that we really love about theater and that’s the connection, both in the physical scene and with the actors and the audience,” Egan said.

You can find Michael Epps on Facebook and Twitter.

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