authentic Stories

The names have been changed to protect the guilty


Board of Directors

Shoestring Theatre Company is led by statewide Board

Glenn Gannaway

Board Secretary

Big Stone Gap

Glenn lives in the Wise County, Va. town of Big Stone Gap, where he is the recently retired news editor of The Post.

 He’s been a cast member of “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine,”

Virginia’s official outdoor drama, since 2007 and also serves on the board of directors of the

Appalachia Cultural Arts Council, where he regularly performs in

stage plays. He has also been a cast member of several Kingsport (Tenn.)

Theatre Guild productions. Glenn discovered a passion for theater as an adult and

is intensely interested in both the theory and practice of the performing arts.

Tyra Garlington


They coined the term “steel magnolia” to describe a Southern woman whose

delicate exterior belies an unbreakable core. Although she is not Southern by birth, 

Tyra Garlington’s life and professional experiences give the right to

“steel magnolia” as her own. The Cincinnati native holds a Masters in Psychology from San Diego State University.

Tyra has been a teacher and principal, whose belief in the ability

of children to rise above their bleak surroundings helped to turn around an

entire school. She has been a psychologist, helping tormented individuals find their way to peace. She has worked in private industry, higher education, and local, state and federal governments. She has

been a volunteer mentor and Education Pillar Chair on the Board of Leadership Fairfax,

guiding the development of the next generation of the course for the educational goals of the program. She continues to “pay it forward”

through her servant leadership in Rotary International and several ministries in her church.

Tabitha Hibbitts


Tabitha graduated from Appalachia High School and attended the College of William & Mary

and The University of Virginia’s College in Wise, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Business & Public

 Administration and Theatre, followed

by a Masters of Business Administration at East Tennessee State University. She is also

 a graduate of VCU’s Commonwealth Management Institute.

Tabitha is an active community volunteer, serving as a CASA volunteer, a

member of the Norton Kiwanis Club, and as a board member of Shoestring

Theatre Company.

She has also spent the last 13 summers managing Public Relations, assistant producing, stage

managing, and acting in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, the official outdoor drama of the

Commonwealth of Virginia. Tabitha has owned and operated Farmers Insurance of Southwest Virginia

in Norton, Virginia since August 2015. She previously served in the administration of

Governor Tim Kaine. Tabitha has four children, Austin, Kaylyn, Justin, and Shelby Ann, is

engaged to retired Marine Staff Sergeant John Grieger, and lives in Powell Valley with their two beagles and two Siamese cats.

John Norce

Board Treasurer


John is the President of Life Marketers, a national

insurance brokerage. He brings extensive knowledge and experience of business

finance and entrepreneurship along with a lengthy track record of participation

 in numerous non-profit associations. John grew up in the

suburbs of New York and starting at a young age would regularly travel to

Broadway for shows. John’s early introduction to the Arts sparked his

interest and he went on to participate in school plays as well as develop a

passion for music through playing various instruments. John to continue his support of 

 the Arts by providing financial experience and leadership to the

Shoestring Theatre Company.

Deana Stoddard 

Assistant Board Secretary

Big Stone Gap

Born in Beckley, WV but raised in Big Stone Gap, VA from the age of 4, Deana

has deep roots in the diverse culture and beauty of the Appalachians.

Discovering an appreciation for the arts did not begin for her until early teens,

where she was a member of the marching and concert bands. After traveling

abroad with a school leadership group, she returned with a newfound admiration

for the quality productions and direction of regional legends—Virginia

McChesney, David Tipton, David Daugherty—realizing the talent and potential of artists all

 around her were unique to regional culture and worthy of audiences .

Currently, Deana actively consults with the Big Stone Gap-based, Lonesome Pine Arts and

Crafts, Inc. to market its branches, including the official outdoor drama of the Commonwealth,

the historic John Fox, Jr. House Museum, and The June Tolliver House and Folk Art Center.

Together, they are working to sustain current historical assets and to develop/fund new

programs that offset the decline in performing arts programming within public schools.

Amelia Townsend



Amelia is from Big Stone Gap, Virginia and was raised here and yonder. She now lives near Fairfax, Virginia. A former journalist, TV producer

author, and now

PR hack, she has found the most unbelievable stories to be true. With the late Dink  Shackleford,  Amelia authored the novel Keepsakes for the Heart,bestselling nonfiction 

story nominated for the prestigious Old North State Award by the N.C.

Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Dink and Amelia

 also co-authored the play I Ain’t Made That Way and several other novels and screenplays yet to be

published or produced. Her proudest

accomplishments are her two children, who survived her mothering and cooking, her mother

and family, who have not disowned her, and her friends who should know better.