Roadside Theater draws both the content and the style of its original productions from the history and culture of its mountain home, where its performers and writers were born, grew up, and remain. The company, based in the Appalachian mountain towns of Whitesburg, KY and Norton, VA, includes performers Kim Neal Cole, Nancy Smith, and Ron Short.
For In Performance, Roadside performs traditional mountain music and a Jack Tale. Jack Tales are funny, imaginative stories about a young fellow who encounters some sort of difficulty: winning a mate, subduing a tyrant, or slaying an ogre. Somehow, either through his wits or his courage or his ability to figure things out or, sometimes, purely by luck, Jack always comes out on top. Jack Tales are found throughout the central and southern Appalachians, but the roots of these stories go back hundreds of years in the British Isles, particularly in Ireland and Scotland.
Roadside has performed in 43 states, has been in residence Off-Broadway, and has represented the United States at more than half a dozen international theater festivals. The group also conducts residencies in schools and communities, continually looking for innovative ways to involve people in theater. Roadside often collaborates with other nationally acclaimed theater companiesincluding Junebug Productions, an African-American theater company in New Orleans; Teatro Pregones, a Puerto Rican theater ensemble in the Bronx; and traditional Native American artists from the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexicoin an effort to truly make theater that celebrates multi-culturalism.
Roadside Theater is one part of Appalshop, a nonprofit arts and education organization that also includes the Appalshop Center in Whitesburg, Appalshop Film & Video, Headwaters Television, the Appalachian Media Institute, June Appal Recordings, and WMMT-FM Community Radio.