Did Rural Academy Theatre troupe go vroom vroom?

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Letter to the Editor

My friend in Marshall told me of the Rural Academy Theatre performing in Marshall, and although it was nightfall and hard to see, she still recommended it! So it was with interest I read that about this troupe in Mountain Xpress (see “Horseplay,” Oct. 9 Xpress).

I tossed around the idea of trying to see their performance at UNC Asheville with my 4-year-old grandson, [but] alas, I had too much work to do so I headed back home around 6 p.m. on River Road. Right in my little community of Alexander, I see this big, odd-looking travel bus headed toward town, towing what looked like the wagon of this troupe!

It may not have been them, but it sure looked like the wagon. It was a most lovely fall day, so I don’t know where the horses were or why they weren’t using their renaissance pace. Were they on the bus?

What happened to the philosophy expressed in the article, which gave me images of a slower, simpler life and a wonderful entertainment form that goes back centuries? In the article, troupe co-founder Gabriel Harrell suggested people hoof it to their shows, or bicycle. But their shows seem to happen at dusk. So if they had stopped at our little old French Broad High School converted to artist studios, I could have walked to it. However, coming home in the dark (possibly with children), sharing the road with cars speeding at 45 mph, is not a very safe proposition.

— Troy Amastar, Alexander

Harrell’s response: Xpress contacted theatre co-director Gabriel Harrell, who’s still on the road, to share this letter writer’s concerns. He said he was grateful for Amastar’s letter, and suggested that this may well have been a case of mistaken identity, as the only time his troupe was motorized in the Asheville area, it briefly used a truck — not a bus — to tow the wagon while the horses were being shuttled through a traffic-heavy stretch of road.

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