Under the exemplary leadership of John Glenn, Barksdale Theatre moved from Hanover Tavern to its new digs at Willow Lawn in 1996. The plan at the time was to create a theatre library in honor of our founders, Nancy and Pete Kilgore and Muriel McAuley (pictured above, left to right). A tasteful room was built off the southern end of the lobby, and the words “McAuley-Kilgore Memorial Library” were emblazoned over the elegant French entry doors in letters of gold.
Predictably, the renovation that transformed the former second floor warehouse area into the intimate and comfortable theatrical setting we enjoy today required a larger investment of time and money than originally planned. And so the construction of permanently installed bookshelves in the “Library” was postponed until such time as resources became available for their design and assembly.
One thing led to another, and now, in 2008, we still have yet to transform our “Library” into a library.
Countless boxes of scripts, theatrical texts, showbiz biographies and original cast albums remain in storage, waiting for over a decade for their promised homeland. The collection of tomes has grown over the years as loyal Barksdalians have contributed their home libraries to our long anticipated public “Library.”
In the interim, a private theatre library was started at VCU in memory of the great director and theatre prof Ken Campbell. More recently, in association with RAPT, David Sennett has generously launched an internet-connected lending library from his home.
But the McAuley-Kilgore Library, when it finally comes to pass, will still fill an important void. When the general public wants to walk into a room and peruse shelves filled with theatrical scripts and reference works, there’s still no place in Central Virginia for them to go. For all their many strengths, our local public libraries are woefully short on scripts. Many a professional and amateur actor and/or theatrical student has searched for even a well-known play only to learn that a well stocked, “open to the public” theatrical library still doesn’t exist in Greater Richmond.
Until that day when the McAuley-Kilgore Library finally opens to meet at least part of that need, our “Library” is being put to good use. The Richmond Playwrights Forum has been meeting there on a monthly basis for years. Theatre IV’s Board of Directors and Barksdale’s Board of Trustees call the “Library” home for the lion's share of their Board and committee meetings. Countless production meetings have been held there, not only for shows at Willow Lawn, but also for shows at the Tavern and the Empire. Small armies of students and children have gathered around the table engaged in seminars and summer camp experiences.
Most tastefully of all, the “Library” has welcomed a cornucopia of buffets and party spreads in service to an endless parade of cast soirees and group outings.
Hopefully, the longed for end will soon be in sight. David Powers, our Technical Director at Hanover Tavern and carpenter extraordinaire, has designed and priced the shelves, and this year we will be in the process of raising $12,000 in capital funds to refurbish and install the inner workings that will one day allow our “Library” to live up to its name. If you or any of your associates would like to help with this fundraising effort, please email Emily Cole. If you would like to donate books and/or recordings of a theatrical nature, please contact Brad Tuggle at the same address.
Our goal is to refinish the handsome conference table and chairs donated by the Markel Corporation in 1996, enabling us to continue to use the “Library” for all of the multi-purposes that have emerged over the last 12 years. We also plan to continue to display the historic portraits of Pete, Nancy, Muriel and Pat Carroll. Surrounding these practical and cherished features, we’ll one day have a fine collection of theatrical reading and listening materials to meet our community's need.
Muriel, Pete and Nancy (especially Muriel) had the greatest reverence for books. One day soon, we’ll all be able to enjoy and benefit from the Library built in their name, with the greatest reverence for their memories, and all they meant to Central Virginia.