This two-volume anthology tells the story of Roadside Theater's first 45 years and includes nine award-winning original play scripts; ten essays by authors from different disciplines and generations, which explore the plays' social, economic, and political circumstances; and a critical recounting of the theater's history from 1975 through 2020. The plays in Volume 1 offer a people's history of the Appalachian coalfields, from the European incursion through the American War in Vietnam. The plays in Volume 2 come from Roadside's intercultural and issue-specific theater work, including long-term collaborations with the African American Junebug Productions in New Orleans and the Puerto Rican Pregones Theater in the South Bronx, as well as with residents on both sides of the walls of recently-built prisons. Roadside has spent 45 years searching for what art in a democracy might look like. The anthology raises questions such as, What are common principles and common barriers to achieving democracy across disciplines, and how can the disciplines unite in common democratic cause?
Ben Fink worked with the Roadside ensemble from 2015 through 2020, as a member of the Betsy! Scholars' Circle, as the founding organizer of the Letcher County Culture Hub and the Performing Our Future coalition, and as the cofounder of the cross-partisan dialogue project Hands Across the Hills. He has also served as dramaturg on the German premieres of two Broadway musicals. His work in theater, organizing, pedagogy, and economic development has been featured by Salon.com, the Brookings Institution, TDR/The Drama Review, Harvard Law School, Americans for the Arts, PolicyLink, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2020, Ben was recognized by Time magazine as one of "27 People Bridging Divides Across America."