The mission of Motus Theater is to create original theater to facilitate dialogue on critical issues of our time. We aim to use the power of art to build alliances across diverse segments of our community.
Storytelling is at the heart of what makes us human. We focus on bringing marginalized voices or silenced histories to the stage. We support inclusion by expanding our audiences’ experiences of the variety of stories that make up our community. By using theater to learn and listen across the gaps of difference we weave a tighter, stronger and more integrated community. When you support Motus you are supporting the most powerful and efficacious type of theater – theater with high aesthetic value that is created by the community and for the community. We hope you will gather around the fire with us: share your stories and learn new ones.
Shocked by several hate crimes in the Boulder community in 2005 and 2006, Kirsten Wilson created Rocks Karma Arrows, a multimedia theater work exploring Boulder history through the lens of race and class. Her aim was to allow people to see the patterns of bias in our past, so that we might be better prepared to come together to work towards a more inclusive future. After the show debuted in 2009 as part of the Boulder Sesquicentennial celebration, Daniel Escalante, a leader from the local Latino community approached Wilson about bringing the show back. Wilson and Escalante gathered a group of community leaders to envision using the show to spark a community discussion. This led to the formation of Motus Theater as a home for the project, and the development of One Action-One Boulder, an arts-based community-wide conversation initiative designed to encourage the Boulder community to explore its past and present in order to inspire reflection and action towards a more inclusive future. A return engagement of Rocks Karma Arrows at CU’s ATLAS Center, supported by a highly competitive $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, was the centerpiece of the entire initiative. Almost 18,000 people and 50 area civic organizations participated in related activities in 2012: 2,600 people attended the five key arts performances, 1,200 participated in The Boulder Public Library’s One Book-One Boulder common read program, and over 14,000 people attended the Chief Niwot exhibit at the Boulder History Museum. Over 100 people committed to taking a significant action to strengthen our community. There was even a One Action Boulder County Scholarship created at the Shepherd Valley Waldorf School. Furthermore, Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardener said, in response to Rocks Karma Arrows and the resulting One Action/One Boulder project, that Motus Theater “changed the conversation in Boulder.”
In 2013, Motus Theater shifted its focus specifically to immigration. Boulder County is increasingly divided by race and wealth. The median income is over $90,000, yet 14% of residents live in poverty. The largest racial minority is Hispanics, who make up 13% of the population, including an estimated 6,500 undocumented immigrants. According to the Boulder County TRENDS Report, only 43% of people surveyed said that our county is open or very open to immigrants from other countries. Motus Theater’s One Action/One Boulder project directly addresses the need to create a more welcoming community by advancing inclusion of immigrants into our community. Immigration policy, currently under debate at both the state and national level, has a daily impact on members of our community, so focusing the project on this topic is both timely and relevant.
Motus Theater’s first step into this issue was the production of Do You Know Who I Am?, a performance scripted by Kirsten Wilson based on monologues written by young undocumented Americans living in Boulder County. The intent of the show, including talkbacks after each performance, is to help people understand current immigration law and its real, everyday impact on the local immigrant community. County Commissioner Elise Jones said, “I went to an AMAZING, sold out performance last night called Do You Know Who I Am? where five brave Latino immigrant youth tell their compelling stories. Equal parts cheering and crying. If you ever had doubts about the need for immediate immigration reform, you won’t anymore.” Over 2,000 people have seen the show since it opened it in November 2013. Collaborators on these performances include: PeaceJam, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Parent Engagement Network, Boulder Human Relations Commission, Latino Advisory Board, Longmont Youth for Equality, Boulder Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee, Democratic Women of Boulder County, Boulder High School, Project YES, University of Colorado, Boulder Public Library, City of Lafayette, Centaurus High School, Americas Latino Festival, Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, Immigrant Legal Services of Boulder County, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, and University of Northern Colorado.
Motus Theater will continue our work on DYKWIA? and immigration through a One Action One Boulder Project beginning in the Fall of 2016 to June 2017. As part of this project Motus Theater has asked Kirsten Wilson to create a new work, Let’s All Be American.