Reflection: Crossing Roots with Cardinal Cross
I’m writing this three days after the end of my recent experience doing theatre in Appalachia. Crossing Roots, organized by Cardinal Cross Arts Co., an independent two-women company, was a Rural-Urban Theatre Workshop with a focus on storytelling, devising, and community organizing.
The event itself was structured in such a way that we were able to see an intimate performance of the TEAM and National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Anything That Gives Off Light, which was easily one of the most enthralling pieces of theatre I have seen as of late. It became all the more impressive after doing a devising workshop with members of the TEAM and I saw the techniques, coherence, and trust they utilize to create interesting and important pieces of art. Wow. I really gotta get myself into gear in doing more devised work locally, as that is definitely a void that could be filled here in Tucson.
There were other interesting workshops including story circles, Theatre of the Oppressed (my favorite), and community-based plays. There were also multiple culture events surrounding food. One meal was catered by AuCo Lai, an Appalachia chef who has been all around the region, and the other by Black Sheep Brick Oven Bakery, a bakery staffed by drug court participants. It was really wonderful to see the trust and support in these small communities. Also, delicious.
It was eye-opening to see such a different region of the United States and learn about the unique, yet comparable, struggles of the people who inhabit it. One of the biggest takeaways from this project, for me, was the ability to listen and recognize the nuance of regional, historical, and community-based struggles. I think that it is so easy to write off marginalized populations, but they are doing things for a reason that makes sense to them and recognizing the difference in values is the first step to finding solutions to ensure human and environmental rights for all groups. Of course, sometimes there might not be an equitable solution, but it never huts to try. Of course, the question then circles around to “but how do we do that in theatre?” How do we make equitable work that can have an impact on the communities beyond just seeing a production? I am excited to see how the lessons learn will continue to influence my own work.
After getting stranded in Atlanta for an additional 15 hours, and trying to catch up to emails, the image below is a pretty accurate representation of my current state of being.
Images from the event can be found here. While you’re there, be sure to check out more about the company and the incredible people in charge, Amy Brooks and Hilarie Rose Spangler.