Before Roman Holiday, Gentleman's Agreement and To Kill a Mockingbird, actor Gregory Peck learned his craft and paid his dues at the Barter Theatre, a 525-seat theatre in Abingdon, VA, 370 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. On June 29, the Oscar-winner will return to his training ground for a benefit performance of his one-man show "A Conversation with Gregory Peck."
Peck acted at the 65-year-old Barter in 1940, appearing in five plays including Family Portrait and On Earth as It Is. Two years later, he made his Broadway debut in The Morning Star, soon after heading for Hollywood where he starred in dozens of films beginning with 1944's Days of Glory.
Peck has been touring the nation with "Conversation," a memoir of sorts in which he talks about his career and shows a variety of film clips. Peck honored the theatre's request that he do the evening as a fundraiser, said Barter spokesperson Debbie Addison. The show is sold out.
Barter boasts many famous alumni, including Ernest Borgnine, Patricia Neal, Hume Cronyn, Kevin Spacey and Frances Fisher. The theatre's pay policy was once synonymous with its name; Peck worked in exchange for food.
--By Robert Simonson