Cardinal Cross
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Cardinal Cross is a rural-urban theater company.

Our mission is to use interdisciplinary theater and rural-urban exchange to produce, amplify, and celebrate the art of womxn and other Appalachian people whose stories are seldom told on stage.


About Us

Cardinal Cross offers a dedicated space for interdisciplinary, first-voice exploration of 21st century Appalachian identity in live performance. We exist 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 1. confronting Whiteness within our communities; and 2. equitably developing new works of, by and for those with whom we stand in solidarity as mountain women.



  • What would an Appalachian avant-garde look like? That is, what movement, if any, are Appalachian artists at the vanguard of; and what principles do we reject? How does an Appalachian avant-garde draw on and diverge from folk roots?

  • How has immersive daily technology changed our relationship to Stories? to Community? to Intimacy? How can contemporary artists embody these changes in performance; and how do they affect our perceptions of the Rural places and natural world in which our work is grounded? What role does digital technology play in the art we produce and perform in communities with limited or unequal access to those technologies?

  • How can mobile, itinerant, or unrooted Appalachian residents and/or former residents connect with their birthright of mountain heritage? Through what new disciplines and perspectives do they view this heritage, and how can their truths be expressed onstage?


Lead Artists



Amy is the former Program Director and Dramaturg for Roadside Theater, the theater wing of Appalachian grassroots arts and media center Appalshop. A West Virginia-New York cultural hybrid who returned to Appalachia just before the 2016 election cycle, Amy investigates the confluence of dramatic narrative (“What is the story we choose to tell onstage?”) and public narrative (“What is the story we are called upon to tell about ourselves, our community, and our future?”) in intercultural rural-urban performance. Amy holds a BFA in acting from West Virginia University and an MFA in dramaturgy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she co-founded and produced the first two seasons of the UMass New Play Lab. She is the former Humanities Director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV, and received the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA)’s 2016 Residency Program Grant and 2017 Bly Creative Capacity Grant for her work with Roadside Theater. Amy currently serves as the Central Appalachia Regional VP for LMDA and was a 2018-19 fellow of the Intercultural Leadership Institute, a year-long intensive training program for artists, culture bearers and other arts professionals co-led by Alternate ROOTS, P’AI Foundation, First Peoples Fund, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures.



A lover of the interdisciplinary, Hilarie Rose Spangler is a musician, theatre artist, visual artist, storyteller and activist interested in the connection between rural, urban and international art practice. A native of Appalachia, but currently working in New York, Hilarie co-launched the Crossroads Lab with Roadside Theater and Amy Brooks in 2017, now known as the “in between: rural- urban feminist” two woman theatre company, Cardinal Cross. She holds a BA in Theatre and Community Arts from Western Kentucky University and will be pursuing her graduate degree in Arts and Cultural Management at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY in August. Other notable work includes: working with South Central Music and Arts as a piano and vocal instructor, working with HERE Arts Center as a Programming assistant to Kristin Marting, festival assistant for PROTOTYPE: Opera, Theatre, Now festival, and founding Living Stories—a collaborative storytelling workshop. Hilarie has directed, performed, music-directed, produced and stage-managed for theatrical productions in New York, Nashville, Louisville, and surrounding areas. She is also the Music Director of the annual Appalachian Youth Performing Arts Camp in Cumberland Gap, TN.  Hilarie has told stories on campus, workshops, in Northern Ireland and in the Moth's Young Women's Voices festival. She also serves as the Quadrant 1 Director of the Kentucky Storytelling Association.