Barter Theatre’s best bits, bites, props and pieces are being celebrated at the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, Virginia.
It’s all in a display dubbed “The Best of Barter” running through Sept. 17.
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“Out of everything, I really enjoyed working with the amazing folks at Barter to plan this exhibition,” said Anna Buchanan, the show’s curator.
“I love making connections in my community and because there were so many Barter Theatre departments involved in making this exhibition possible, I had the chance to meet a lot of really amazing, talented artists,” Buchanan said.
Audiences can get the chance to take an up-close look at the costumes, props and set designs handcrafted from Barter Theatre artisans.
“I think that without the actors themselves, that spectacle of kinetic performance is obviously gone,” Buchanan said.
“So I had to stage this exhibit in such a way that still brought some elements of the spectacle of theatre into the gallery to make it still feel ‘alive,’ if you will,” Buchanan said.
“All of the costumes and props have painted backdrops that echo the element of the individual plays themselves,” Buchanan said. “There’s a lot of glitter and a lot of sparkle as you enter the first room, and a lot of fantasy as you enter the second room. Theatre itself is such a magical experience and everything that we’ve presented in the gallery is a remnant from that. My hope is that the audience still feels that magic when they look at the pieces before them. If they do, I think that’s what visitors will enjoy the most.”
Learn about the many hands that it takes to create one production and the countless hours that go into a rehearsal.
“The most surprising artifact in the exhibit is a pamphlet from the second ever Tony awards,” Buchanan said.
Explore the origins of theater as well as Barter Theatre’s own origin story.
“I hope that people visit the exhibition in conjunction with the Barter Theatre performances,” Buchanan said. “If they see the exhibits before they go off to see a Barter performance, I think it will add to the anticipation of seeing the play. If people see the exhibit after they’ve seen a Barter performance, I hope that the exhibition only adds to the magic that they’ve just witnessed.”
Read about the many actors that have come through Barter’s doors and performed their way onto television.
In this exhibition, audiences can peer behind the curtain of Barter Theatre productions and leave the exhibit with a newfound appreciation for the best of Barter.
“Wow! Oh my gosh,” Buchanan said. “Well Barter is celebrating its 90th anniversary so it’s been established as a prominent force of the performing arts in our community for quite some time and the arts in our community have only grown from there. Robert Porterfield wanted the arts to be for everyone and I think that that message still applies to the mission of the arts in Abingdon today. Art is and should always be for everybody.”
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