From February through the Christmas season, audiences flock to the prestigious Barter Theatre, America's longest-running professional repertory theater. Founded during the Depression by local actor Robert Porterfield, the theater got its name in the obvious way: early patrons who could not afford the 40 tickets could pay in produce. Patricia Neal, Ned Beatty, and Gregory Peck are among the many stars who began their careers at the Barter, which today presents classics,
dramas, comedies, musicals, and new and Appalachian works. Although times have changed since Noël Coward was given a Virginia ham for his contributions, patrons can still barter for their seat a few times a year. But don't just show up at the box office with a bag of arugula—all trades must be approved by advance notice.