Appalshop News

Community, place, and theater traditions: and update from Roadside Theater

2 months ago

Roadside Theater has always been a place-based, community-powered theater.

Over the years, our tireless work has helped keep the art of storytelling and theater in the hands of the people–performing in community centers, churches, civic clubs, festivals, anywhere where people gathered. Roadside even performed under a tent in a field, attached to a nearby house’s electricity when no other performance spaces were available.

Roadside was created in the spirit of being a part of our larger community.

When presented with the difficult choice to uplift our community or our play-making, we will always choose the former. That’s why our regular creative operations have ceased in the weeks since a historic flood decimated our home of Eastern Kentucky. Every staff member at Roadside Theater has focused their efforts towards relief work in the community; whether it is purchasing and distributing donations at mutual aid sites, volunteering time with children and elders at local community centers, helping displaced citizens find permanent housing, or volunteering time to assist other local organizations in need of additional support who lack national recognition, as Appalshop has been fortunate to receive in recent weeks.

Before the flood, we were working on a play about the creation of the Carr Creek Reservoir, which was constructed over a ten-year period in the sixties and seventies, inundating a number of communities, many predominantly Black, putting homes, cemeteries, and long-time family residences underwater.

Kyra Higgins, Appalshop Fellow and Roadside Ensemble Member, is a descendent of one of the displaced families, and has championed this project since the beginning. Before the floods, this play was immensely valuable to her and us. Now, it has taken on new meaning as more homes, cemeteries, and family residencies have been claimed by inundation. But, given the vital efforts required to assist those in our town and greater region–we must temporarily halt the production of our Carr Creek Community play. 

We are storytellers by trade, and although we are putting our play-making process on hold, it does not mean we are not telling stories.

For us, and our communities, this is part of the story, and we want to ensure everyone has the chance to tell it. With your support, we can continue our efforts to help those in the region, and assist in the eventual creation of a play that will merge timelines; telling the stories of those who saw their hometowns inundated for recreation through the Carr Creek Lake, and those whose homes were impacted by the devastating impacts of climate change.

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