Burgaw, North Carolina, a blip near the coast, doesn’t seem like much — a correctional institute, a Food Lion, an interstate exit on the outskirts — but it happens to be the horse-drawn theater capital of the United States. So quipped Gabriel Harrell, who founded the equine-powered enterprise that is the Rural Academy Theatre with his brother, Noah Harrell. Although Burgaw is the theater company’s base, Western North Carolina is its stage.

Every year for the past four years, the brothers have departed their hometown at summer’s end with horses, wagons and a small theater company of friends to tour the back roads, pastures and small towns around Asheville, offering accessible, original productions that feature live music, puppetry, vaudeville- and cabaret-inspired sketches, allegories and more.

As in every town, the Walking Guys are looking for somewhere to rest their heads. For more information, visit or send an email to

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