Playing with the Vagabonds

Dead angels tell no tales — except when the Vagabond Players get hold of them.

The version of Thomas Wolfe’s famous angel statue on display at the Henderson County Heritage Museum looks somehow more satisfied than the actual stone edifice that sits in Oakdale Cemetery. That’s because the vintage prop represents almost a century of beloved theater, helping commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Vagabond Players.

Back in the Depression years, a maverick named Robroy Farquhar anchored his peripatetic group of actors in the Henderson County portion of the Blue Ridge, determined to establish a non-traveling troupe in the beautiful area. The Vagabond Players first staged plays at Lake Summit Playhouse and eventually settled into Flat Rock Playhouse, the beloved state theater of North Carolina.

The Playhouse’s current Resident Scenic Designer, Dennis C. Maulden, is a veteran Vagabond who joined the Flat Rock family in 1967. He offers an insider’s perspective on the theater’s august history: “Now that we are celebrating the 80th anniversary of Robroy Farquhar’s Vagabond Players, I understand how that sense of history and spirit affected me so powerfully in my first-year apprenticeship. I feel privileged to belong to such a creative and giving theater ensemble,” he said recently in a press statement. “We are, indeed, a family, and I experience each new season with fond memories of the past and eager anticipation of the new Vagabonds who will soon become lifelong friends.”

The exhibit runs through the end of the year. Look for a feature story in Bold Life’s June print issue.

The 80th Anniversary of the Vagabond Players at the Henderson County Heritage Museum. 10am-5pm. 828-694-1619. Opening Saturday, May 6, 12-2pm. 1 Historic Courthouse Square (Main Street, Hendersonville). 828-694-1619. www.flatrockplayhouse.org.

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