Barter’s first production was in 1933 and the building that is home to Barter’s Gilliam Stage has a grand and rich history dating back to 1831. The Historic Gilliam Stage is a proscenium style that accommodates up to 506 patrons. This stage has is a traditional proscenium style theatre, with seating downstairs in the orchestra or upstairs in the balcony. Big musicals and more traditional works are typically produced in this space.
Gilliam Stage at Barter Theatre
Barter's Smith Theatre
Barter’s Smith Theatre across Main Street from the Gilliam Stage and brings the action up. In this space a smaller, more intimate stage is ground level, while three-quarter stadium-style seating allows for a unique experience. Newer works and edgier plays are typically produced here, as well as most of The Barter Players’ productions.
Smith Theatre features 167 seats around a thrust stage. In some seats, patrons are only a few feet away from the performers. On May 24, 2019, Barter’s Smith Theatre was named in honor of Steve and Debbie Smith and the Smith family for their loyalty to Barter and the region. Barter’s Smith Theatre is favored by actors and audiences for its intimate setting which makes it perfect for innovative new productions, thrillers, and comedies.
The Lounge at Smith Theatre
In May of 2018, Barter introduced The Lounge to serve Barter patrons as a group meeting space, for dining, and an event space. The Smith Theatre gift shop and concessions area lives in The Lounge and is open to patrons before a performance and during intermission. This space offers a one-stop experience complete with a meal, shopping & seeing a show at Barter Theatre.
The Lounge For Groups
The Lounge is the perfect location for groups attending a show to host a cetered dining experience. We also open up The Lounge as a place to host events outside of Barter productions: a birthday party, family gathering, meeting, luncheon, bridal or baby shower, etc. If you’re interested in booking the space for a meal during your next group visit or for your next gathering, contact Group Sales for pricing and availability.
What does The Lounge have to offer?
Warm welcome by Barter Theatre staff members
Comfortably hosts 60 guests indoors
Reserve The Barter Green to accommodate additional space for up to 125 guests
Adjacent patio area to accommodate up to 30 guests
Catered meals available through local vendors
Premium parking for groups dining before a show
Bus loading and unloading in front of Smith Theatre
Screen, podium & microphone available for meetings upon request
Small portable stage available for large outdoor events upon request
Complimentary coffee for groups having a meal
Contact Group Sales about The Lounge
Barter Theatre Gift Shops
Barter Theatre gift shops are located in the lobby area of both Gilliam Stage and Smith Theatre. Our gift shops are a great place to pick up Barter Theatre apparel, Abingdon souvenirs and show memorabilia. Our gift shops also feature unique and affordable costume jewelry from all over the world and fresh bakery items form Anthony’s Desserts here in Abingdon.
When you visit a Barter Theatre Gift Shop please consider rounding your purchase amount up to the nearest dollar. Your spare change is given as a contribution to The Barter Foundation and helps us make great things possible in the Southwest Virginia region.
Gift certificates and gift baskets are available at the box office at gift shops of both stages. They make the perfect gift for anyone any time.
Contact The Gift Shop
In between Barter Theatre and Barter Stage II, there lives a stunning incarnation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Designed and sculpted by Charles Vess and David Spence, this 800 pound, 16-foot-tall bronze fountain has been a part of the Barter landscape since 2009. Faeries dance across the water in this breathtaking design. Be sure to take a moment before the show to pay a visit to the fountain and maybe even make a wish.
How did this beautiful statue come to find it’s home at Barter Theatre? Find out below with Irene Gallo’s interview of artist Charles Vess:
How did you get such a cool gig and did they ask for Midsummer or was that your decision?
Charles: I’ve had a long association with the Barter Theatre: designing their new logo back in 1992 and over the years, designing two very different production of Peter Pan. So four years ago Rick Rose, their artistic director, asked me if I’d be interested coming up with a concept for a large bronze sculptural fountain for them. I chose to collaborate with David Spence, a long time bronze artist that lives in the area, so that I wouldn’t immediately fall flat on my face as I ventured out into a new medium. And having already illustrated Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream and re-conceived it again in Sandman #19 it seemed a natural fit to base whatever design we came up with on the same play. I do love my faeries! After lots of drawing and even more erasing we submitted our drawings to first The Barter and then the Architectural Revue Board of Abingdon. Everyone seemed delighted with our concept and it was a big thumbs up.
Then David and I set about co-sculpting all the various pieces for the project, pouring almost two ton of bronze in the process. The finished fountain measures 16 ft. in height and 15 ft. in circumference and took a little over three years to complete.
Did anything surprise you while working on this assignment?
Well, the same thing that always surprises me about sculpting: that it is far easier for me to sculpt an object than to draw and paint one.
It was also a complete surprise to realize that the completed fountain looks, with a few tweaks, amazingly like my original drawing.
Is this in the same town as the movie theatre with your mural and the library with your 3D mural? If so, I picture Abingdon as some kind of wonderful Vess version of the Land of Laughs. And I want to visit.
The mural is here in Abingdon, as are several permanent installations of my paintings. The 30 x 50 ft. brick wall sculpture (based on the Appalachian Jack Tales) is actually about a 45 minute drive back into the mountains though. A beautiful drive, that.
Michael Kaluta once accused me of trying to transform the area into one of my drawings and I answered with “Why Not?”
Located near the Midsummer Night’s Dream bronze fountain directly across the street from Barter Theatre. The historic marker reads: The Barter Theatre building was constructed about 1830 as a church, which was remodeled several times. Among the oldest theaters in America, the building hosted its first performance in 1876. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Robert Porterfield, an enterprising actor and Washington County native, created the Barter Theatre and proposed exchanging “ham for Hamlet.” The theater opened its doors on 10 June 1933; admission was “35 cents or the equivalent in victuals” to feed the actors. Many stage and screen actors, designers, and playwrights have polished their craft here. In 1946, the Barter Theatre was designated the State Theatre of Virginia.
Department of Historic Resources, 1998