Barter Theatre, located in Abingdon, Virginia, opened on June 10, 1933 making it the nation’s longest running professional theatre. In 1933, when the country was in the middle of The Great Depression, spare money for a theatre ticket was not easy to come by. Robert Porterfield, founder of the theatre, offered a unique solution to allow locals to attend shows. Rather than traditional money, patrons could pay for admission to the theatre by bartering food, livestock or other goods. For 40 cents, or the equivalent in bartered goods, anyone could see a show. In 1946, Barter Theatre was designated as the State Theatre of Virginia. Today, Barter is one of the last year-round professional resident repertory theaters remaining in the United States.
Many well-known stars of stage, screen and television have performed early in their careers at Barter, including: Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine, Patricia Neal, Ned Beatty, Hume Cronyn, Gary Collins, Frances Fisher,Larry Linville, John Glover, Jim Varney, and Wayne Knight. Will Bigham, the 2007 winner of On The Lot, acted at Barter Theatre for several years.