Crossing Roots: A Rural-Urban Theater Workshop

$1,110 of $2,000 goal

Raised by 26 people in 6 months
Created December 26, 2018
UPDATE (2/20): This campaign has closed! Thank you all for your generous donations!


In March 2019, Kentucky-based artists Amy Brooks and Hilarie Spangler – aka Cardinal Cross Arts Co . – will partner with Lincoln Memorial University’s Arts in the Gap  program to produce Crossing Roots, a 3-day theater workshop and intercultural exchange in Cumberland Gap, TN; Whitesburg, KY, and other central Appalachian cultural sites.

Crossing Roots will feature devised theater-making sessions led by members of Brooklyn ensemble Theater of the Emerging American Moment (or The TEAM) and performers from the National Theatre of Scotland, as well as Appalachian and Southern artists.

The workshop, loosely structured around The TEAM’s “Devising In a Democracy” training, will accept 20 diverse local, regional, and national participants with degrees of performance experience from amateur to professional on a sliding pay scale. In 2-3 intensive sessions per day, participants will explore:

• Devised theater-making

• Exercises which explore memory, trauma, and identity as embodied traits we carry and perform

• Learning to move from intellectual or thematic ideas to dynamic theatrical moments

• Generating material through physical and written assignments

• Cultivating an ensemble bond and navigating emotional waters amidst a process

• Strategies for editing as a group

• Building dances

• Writing on your feet (and other approaches to improvisation)

• Using story circles as a community cultural and ensemble development tool

• Intercultural musical, culinary, and storytelling exchange as tools for transforming our rural and urban communities

The TEAM and NTS actors will kick off the week with an intimate “pub” version of "Anything That Gives Off Light," their 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe breakout hit originally directed by Rachel Chavkin ("Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812"), at a ticketed public event on the LMU campus. The play’s intercultural themes, experimental form, and high-voltage musical backbone will serve as a framework for the 3 days of theater-making and community immersion to follow. 


Crossing Roots will build upon a three-year relationship between New York-based ensemble The TEAM, the National Theatre of Scotland, and the community-based artists of eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, and southwestern Virginia. It was in these hills, among such coalfield artists, that The TEAM first conducted its 2016 research tour for "Anything That Gives Off Light," which examines Appalachian-American and Scottish national myths. The play was created from a series of talks with people across Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky – interviews with mountain people as far-ranging as conservative and libertarian "land-grant" farmers and a 70+ year old community organizer and cultural worker who has been fighting racism, capitalism, and the coal industry his entire life.


Workshop sessions will be interspersed with a broad range of local cultural immersion, site visits, social activities, and community events, including a meal hosted by LEE Award-winning Vietnamese-Appalachian chef and Amity Foodworks founder AuCo Lai; a public musical meet-and-greet for Cumberland Gap residents and Lincoln Memorial University students, faculty, and staff; a story circle with members of the eastern Kentucky organizing group the Letcher County Culture Hub ; and a day working with the media makers of grassroots arts and cultural center Appalshop .

We'll be honest: projects this boundary-breaking aren't widely funded in the nonprofit arts world, where less than 2% of annual foundation funding goes to rural artists; and pennies on the dollar trickle down to social  justice-driven companies like Cardinal Cross.

This is why we're asking for your help. In the next eight weeks (Dec. 26-Feb. 20), we hope to raise $1,000 -2,000 in funds for the Crossing Roots festival in Cumberland Gap, TN. The money you donate will be crucial to sustaining our workshop's activities, including:

• Paying our central Appalachian teaching artists for their genius, labor, time, and travel

• Defraying travel, lodging, time, insurance and hospitality expenses for Amy and Hilarie, two fledgling Kentucky producers who are currently paying out-of-pocket to launch this workshop

• Covering rental costs for lighting and sound equipment & services necessary to adapt "Anything That Gives Off Light" to a non-traditional Lincoln Memorial University performance space

Each workshop partner (e.g., Cardinal Cross, The TEAM, Arts in the Gap) is fundraising independently to finance this collaboration. Your $2,000 will – along with the generous support of organizations like The Kentucky Foundation For Women and Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas – directly benefit the portions of Crossing Roots currently without major donors or large-scale institutional support...making your generosity doubly valuable to the hard working, transgressive women and female-identifying artists of central Appalachia.

Developed in 2017 under the name “Crossroads Lab” within Appalshop’s award-winning theater wing, Roadside – and now an independent two-woman company – Cardinal Cross offers a dedicated space for interdisciplinary, first-voice exploration of 21st century Appalachian identity in live performance.

Cardinal Cross exists to seek out, collaboratively develop, and present new community-based plays and performance art that reflect the aesthetic and cultural values of contemporary Appalachian musicians, storytellers, performers, digital media makers and designers.

We direct, write, perform, teach, and produce in partnership with women, womxn, gender-nonconforming and LGBTQ+; documented and undocumented immigrants; people of color, particularly indigenous and Native; people with disabilities; incarcerated people; people informally educated or sustained by digital/alt-economies; non-rural ‘Metrolachians’; rural people with affinities for mainstream culture or tech; and all mountain folx whose relationship to Place is too complex, ambivalent, or flawed to fit into pat creative placemaking narratives.

There are so many stories we cannot tell "for" others – they don't belong to us. But we can and will bring our resources, skills, and passion for storytelling to bear in equitably developing new works of, by and for those with whom we stand in solidarity as mountain women.
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BIG NEWS! We've passed our original goal of $1,000 with nearly a month to spare! Thank you all so much for the generosity and solidarity you've shown.

We're raising our goal to $2,000, so please continue to donate, like, share, ask, register, promote, and just generally send good vibes our way. As fledgling producers, we need all the community support we can get. With gratitude, Amy & Hilary
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$1,110 of $2,000 goal

Raised by 26 people in 6 months
Created December 26, 2018
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