Having taken the stage over 700 times for her one-woman show, veteran actress Barbara Bates Smith still describes every performance as magical.
Her production, “Ivy Rowe,” paints a picture of 20th century revivals, mine disasters, rural electrification, the Great Depression and three wars, as told from the perspective of Ivy — an elderly yet feisty mountain woman.
Partnering with the Carrboro ArtsCenter, Smith will perform her piece yet again for a Friday and Saturday performance honoring the show’s 25th year of production.
“What people seem to love about (Ivy) is her sensuous nature and flair for storytelling,” Smith said. “She brings a character to identify with, fall in love with and that’s just entertaining.”
With the help of co-writer Mark Hunter, Smith first adapted the one-woman performance from the book “Fair and Tender Ladies” by author Lee Smith.
Barbara Bates Smith said the writing process was a long ordeal, but also something she felt compelled to complete.
“I read (Lee Smith's) book, and it had such an overwhelming effect on me that I felt I had to do it, even on a street corner if necessary,” she said. “This now being the 25th year of performing it, I’m taking it back to some of the places it played years ago.”
Since the debut of “Ivy Rowe” in 1989, Barbara Bates Smith has performed the play in rural and urban areas across the country, netting rave reviews from The New York Times, Variety and The Village Voice.
Her upcoming performance in Carrboro has already generated great excitement in the local artistic community.