During a historic ceremony, Barter Theatre named its main stage in honor of two couples, Marvin and Marcia Gilliam and Richard and Leslie Gilliam. Never before in the state theatre’s 83-year history has the stage been dedicated to any individual or organization, making this momentous occasion truly unique.
Barter Theatre’s Director of Advancement, Katherine Foreman, said, “In theater, naming a stage is a huge deal. This particular stage was built in 1837 and Barter started calling the space home in 1933. In all that time, it had never been named until now.”
Among their myriad of contributions to Barter Theatre, the Gilliam family generously made the single largest donation to any theatre in Virginia state history.
Producing Artistic Director Richard Rose, said, “We enjoyed the opportunity to thank Richard, Leslie, Marvin and Marcia for their tremendous leadership and commitment to Barter and the Southwest Virginia region. I simply cannot say enough about how truly touched I am by their actions and by their support.”
As a part of the dedication, Kyle Macione, the president of Barter Theatre’s board of trustees, along with Rose, revealed stunning portraits of both Gilliam couples. Now the additions adorn the entrance to Gilliam Stage at Barter Theatre, alongside founder Robert Porterfield’s portrait. Also, a new handcrafted and lighted sign, revealed during the event, hangs above the theatre’s entrance.
Barter Theatre, the nation’s longest running professional theatre, is located in Abingdon, Virginia. The theatre opened in 1933 during the Great Depression. Founder Robert Porterfield offered patrons admission to the theatre by bartering food and livestock. Barter Theatre was designated as the state theatre of Virginia in 1946. It exists today as one of the last year-round professional resident repertory theaters remaining in the United States. Barter Theatre is funded in part by The Virginia Commission for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.