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uietly tucked between houses at 4003 Indiana Ave., The Barbershop Theater occupies the building once known as Billy’s Barbershop, a favorite neighborhood hangout. Billy’s was the spot where young and old alike came to get haircuts, weaves or shaves, to prepare for special occasions or just to gossip and talk politics. The barbershop was a local fixture. After Billy died, the barbershop closed and became the punk rock and DIY scene of DRKMTTR Collective until they moved on to another location. Then, in March 2018, the building changed hands and became a new and different kind of venue. Driving by its quiet exterior by day, you might not ever guess that the building is now home to

some of the most daring and inclusive live theater in Music City by night, blending the cutting-edge art scene with its former community hangout vibe. The Barbershop Theater was the shared dream of owners Graham Mote and his wife/partner Nettie Kraft. When they found the old barbershop, with its rich history in this West Nashville neighborhood, they knew they had found their ideal location. “When we bought the place, we wanted to give homage to our ancestors as a sign of respect,” Kraft said. Keeping the old theme alive, they named it “The Barbershop Theater” and hung the original, hand-painted “Billy’s Barbershop” sign prominently inside the theater. The theater doesn’t resemble other theaters around town. The

little white building looks deceptively small, but that is exactly what its owners were looking for—a more intimate space to offer dynamic theater experiences for Nashville. According to Kraft (who is also the artistic director of Verge Theater Company), The Barbershop Theater is similar to small neighborhood theaters in Chicago. “Historically, the community theater movement (under 100 seats) grew up during the Depression,” she said. “These small theaters are a point of pride and bring money into the community where neighbors can walk by and ask, ‘What’s playing this week?’” When Mote and Kraft first opened the theater, they offered the space to rent for theater rehearsals and shows on a contractual basis

Scenes from Razorglam photo credit: Brigid Murphy Stewart

June–July 2019 |


Profile for 372WN

372WN Vol III, Issue IV  

June–July 2019

372WN Vol III, Issue IV  

June–July 2019

Profile for 372wn