"What makes a grassroots theater a grassroots theater? What ideals and principles distinguish it from other kinds of theater activity in the country? What elements and goals do the various grassroots theater efforts in the U.S. have in common?"—Dudley Cocke, Harry Newman, and Sanet Salmons-Rue
GRASSROOTS, COMMUNITY-BASED ARTS AND POLICY
Roadside's grassroots theater is given its voice by the communities of southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky from which it arises. As makers of grassroots theater, we are part of the culture from which our work is drawn. The people who are the subjects of the work are part of its development from inception through presentation. Their stories and histories inform the work; their feedback during the creation process shapes it. The audience is not consumer of, but participant in, the performance.
Our place-based activities generally fall into one or more of four broad categories, which you can explore in depth at Roadside's Living Library archive:
PERFORMING OUR FUTURE
In 2015, Appalshop's Roadside Theater and Letcher County Culture Hub launched a national development initiative called Performing Our Future. POF, our direct response to central Appalachia’s watershed transition to a post-coal economy, combines the expertise of economists, humanities scholars, and artists to advance economic development driven by cultural assets. The PERFORMING OUR FUTURE DIGITAL TOOLKIT (linked below) contains everything you'll need to learn about POF and the many ways we (and a growing network of partners across the US) are using grassroots arts and culture to build voice, agency, ownership, and belonging in our communities.