Robert Porterfield's Legacy


Curious about the man behind the vision? Robert Porterfield, founder of Barter Theatre, has been the subject of countless articles, books, stories, and lore in the more than 80 years since he first opened the doors to Barter Theatre. Below, find access to some of the many resources on the life of Robert Porterfield and the incredible legacy he left behind:

Robert Porterfield's Legacy By Angela Wampler‚Äč

Barter Theatre — whether you know it as your hometown theatre or by its worldwide reputation — originated with the vision of Robert Porterfield. What began as one man's dream has evolved into a spirit, pride and sense of ownership felt by an entire region — and one of the Commonwealth's greatest cultural assets.

A native Southwest Virginian, Porterfield grew up with the calling of theatre in his blood — a dream that took him as a young man to Broadway, just in time for the Great Depression.

To view the full article, click here.

Barter Theatre: Trading Ham for Hamlet by Blue Ridge PBS

Blue Ridge PBS's Emmy Award-winning production team is in the process of producing a one-hour feature about the legendary Barter Theatre, in Abingdon, VA. Barter Theatre has opened its doors and its archives to Blue Ridge PBS, resulting in a creative trail that traces its history from 1933.

To view a preview of the documentary, click here.

"If You Like Us, Talk About Us" By Robert L. McKinney-this comprehensive biography of Robert Porterfield is available for purchase on Amazon and in the Barter Theatre gift shops.

With stops in New York, Hollywood, and great theatre towns along the way,If You Like Us, Talk About Us presents the life and times of Bob Porterfield, who grew up in Southwest Virginia with the calling of Theatre in his blood-a dream that took him as a young man to Broadway, yet just in time for the Great Depression.

"The Barter Theatre Story: Love Made Visible" By Mark Dawidziak-available for purchase on Amazon

The arts have always been the realm of long shots, impossible dreams and unrelenting innovators. From the impoverished writer plugging away at a novel or a play to the persevering actor who pounds the New York pavement waiting for the "big" break, the artists, dancers, singers, composers, writers, musicians, comedians and actors strive in professions which dictate the most improbable of odds.

Just to exist day to day, these single-minded professionals must continue to tap an inexhaustible reservoir of belief: belief in the significance of their work, in their own talent, and in the future. It is a world where a nicely worded rejection becomes a comfort to a reason to hope.

In the small Southwest Virginia town of Abingdon there stands a shrine to this uncompromising belief in dreams and the importance of cultural enrichment. It's called the Barter Theatre...

"Will Work For Food" available in the Barter Theatre gift shops

The small band of hungry actors who produced Barter's first play in 1933 had little inkling they were establishing a theatre that one day would rank among the finest in the nation. All they were hoping for was a good, hot meal in exchange for their talents. Born of desperation and nurtured through adversity, Barter Theatre has survived to become one of the strongest — and most respected — regional theatres in the country.Will Work for Food is the exciting story of Barter's first 75 years. It's a story of survival — and triumph — through economic depression, the hardships of war, natural calamity, and the challenges of changing times. Even if you're familiar with the Barter story, you will be captivated by Will Work for Food.