The barn lot
THE NAME “BARN LOT” pretty well sets the stage for the story of a community theater in Metcalfe County. It made its debut more than four decades ago using remnants of a dilapidated barn and an adjacent feedlot at the community park in Edmonton.
Organizers had little more than a vision; no property, money, actors, costumes or props. But with help from their family and friends the old barn was soon transformed into a backdrop for the stage, and the feedlot became a seating area for the outdoor theater. A fitting production was chosen for its opening in the summer of 1980: Barefoot in the Park.
Now, the Barn Lot Theater is a fixture of southcentral Kentucky’s nonprofit, volunteer-supported performing arts community, with a year-round schedule of plays and events. Several years after its opening, the theater was able to purchase and renovate the old Ford garage in Edmonton, which has been its home since 1993. Soon it will relocate to more spacious quarters in a former apparel factory.
“The great thing is how it’s drawn participation from so many in the area, including young people,” says theater board chairman Kyle Hadley, a consumer-member of Farmers RECC. Many theater productions are sellouts, often drawing audiences from surrounding counties and even other states.
“It’s becoming the heart and soul of the community,” says Julie Adkins of Barren County, who has roles in numerous productions. She believes the Barn Lot’s seating capacity of just over 100—and audience members’ proximity to the stage—may often enhance audience interaction with performers, especially with comedies such as Julie’s favorite, The Odd Couple (Female Version).
Sandy Roberts Dunn of Hart County, a retired teacher, joined the theater during the mid-1980s when it was still outdoors. She’s now among the many actors from the region with roles in such productions as The Savannah Sipping Society, Farce of Nature, dramas and musicals.
“I had the lead in my fourth grade play, but had never had the opportunity to be in theater,” she recalls. “I just love it. I like to get there three hours early.”
Cast members and many non-acting volunteers are not paid, but a paid staff handles theater operations through salaries generated from ticket sales and fundraising programs such as theater-sponsored bingo and an online auction called the Auction Barn. Theater tickets are $15, with discounts for seniors, children, law enforcement, military personnel and first responders.
One of the Barn Lot’s popular comedy actors is Metcalfe County’s newly elected judge-executive, Larry Wilson, a consumer-member of Farmers RECC, who lives on a farm in Metcalfe County and has for years served as a funeral director and the county coroner.
“I really didn’t have any hobbies, and I went to a play and enjoyed it, and thought, ‘I’d like to do this,’” he says. “After my first play I was hooked. People always saw me on the sad side of life, and comedy became my out.