Cardinal Cross uses interdisciplinary rural-urban exchange to produce, amplify, and celebrate the art of womxn and other Appalachians whose stories are seldom told on stage.


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.


  • 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?