WITHOUT OUR STORIES, HOW WILL WE KNOW IT'S US, and without understanding the stories of others, how can we possibly know who they are? For Roadside, the purpose of theater is to increase our understanding of ourselves and our empathy for others. This purpose orders Roadside’s wide range of experimental work which falls under three broad categories.
CREATION Roadside has created or co-created 58 new plays, which can be grouped by intention.
Affirming a people’s history by filling gaps in the Appalachian historical narrative with touring productions of the first professional Appalachian plays, Roadside publicly proclaims that Appalachia’s stories count. We make these plays with local materials: oral histories, traditional ballads and archetypal stories, the forms of indigenous church services, personal memory – all re-imagined for the stage.
Telling a national story through community-based cultural exchanges and the creation of intercultural plays with other professional ensembles, Roadside links the Appalachian story to the histories and intimate stories of other Americans as a way to tell a larger national story. Community cultural development Roadside helps other communities across the U.S. discover their own cultural resources and transform them into public performances based in their local aesthetic forms.
PRESENTATION Roadside has toured its creations and co-creations to more than 2,000 communities in 43 states and Europe. Along the way, we have developed a sure-fire methodology to attract a popular audience that reflects the nation’s economic, racial, ethnic, educational, and geographic diversity.
DOCUMENTATION In order to record and evaluate its practice, Roadside produces public documents of its work, including books, videos, audio recordings, and pamphlets.