ABINGDON, Va. — Even in the middle of this pandemic, with theaters shutting down, the Barter Theatre has news.
And this comes even when we’re now facing a year with the Virginia Highlands Festival being canceled.
Which, by the way, is related, as the festival was an outgrowth of Barter Theatre founder Robert Porterfield’s plan to increase summer tourism.
But I digress.
Barter Theatre has recently been awarded the highly competitive Shakespeare in American Communities grant for 2020 — a distinction that the theater has won for five years in a row.
This is a national theater program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest bringing performances and related educational activities to audiences across the country.
Certainly some good news while the theater remains dark yet while shows are streamed online.
The Shakespeare program supports high-quality, professional productions of Shakespeare’s plays and related educational activities for middle and high school students in underserved schools throughout the United States.
Now, here’s the bad news.
A record-breaking 1,900 students were slated to attend this year’s production of “Macbeth” — but could not because the theater shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet the Barter actors figured out a way to make “Macbeth” work after all.
Even in the midst of the coronavirus.
“Macbeth From Our Homes to Yours” became a volunteer project by actors who belong to the Actor’s Equity Association.
This show was streamed together as it was recorded from the actor’s homes and produced in a way that tells the story while also creating a mystical world far beyond.
Take this from a release: “Over the course of a week and a half, while the actors rehearsed,
Barter’s group reservations coordinator reached out to each school [that] had planned to attend the planned production of Macbeth and arranged for every student to access the online performance, just a few short weeks before online school would end for the year.”