Motus Theater

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 empathetic alliances across diverse segments of our community and country.

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JustUs: Stories From the Frontlines of the Criminal Justice System

Class

Crime & Legal 

Beneficiaries

Blacks, African Heritage
Ethnic/Racial Minorities
Hispanic, Latino Heritage
Offenders, Ex-Offenders
Unemployed, Underemployed

Description

The JustUs: Stories From the Frontlines of the Criminal Justice System project was created by Motus Theater as a way to mobilize discussion and inspire action by sharing artfully crafted autobiographical stories that illustrate the consequences of incarceration and the injustices within the criminal justice system (both behind bars and beyond).

As part of a 17- week workshop, eight people who have been formerly incarcerated worked alongside Motus Theater's Artistic Director, Kirsten Wilson, to develop autobiographical monologues. These monologues cover themes as diverse as racial profiling, inequity in the bond/bail system, human rights abuses in prison, the criminalization of substance abusers, and the systemic racism and poverty that pushes young people into illicit economies.

Motus presents the JustUs monologues in two formats: 1."Motus Monologues: JustUs" performances feature the autobiographical monologists telling their own story with a musical response. 2. "Motus Shoebox Stories: JustUs" performances feature law enforcement and other state and community leaders standing in the shoes of Motus' formerly incarcerated monologists by reading aloud their stories.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Women of Resolution

Class

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy 

Beneficiaries

Hispanic, Latino Heritage
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges

Description

These live performances features the stories of four Colorado women living in sanctuary: Araceli Velasquez, Ingrid Encalada Latorre, Rosa Sabido, and Sandra Lopez. Because these women can't leave sanctuary to read their own stories or go to the legislature to advocate for their rights, their stories are read by members of the Colorado House of Representatives.

Developed by Motus Theater from interviews and photos by the award-winning journalist, Joel Dyer (Boulder Weekly), and woven together with music sung by Teresita Lozano.

First performed at eTown Hall in Boulder (October 2018), this performance was followed by a live poetic response from award-winning feminist and civil rights slam poet, Dominique Christina, and a talkback discussion with sanctuary leaders. Women of Resolution will be performed in Denver in the fall of 2019.

Women of Resolution Community Readings: Invites book clubs, faith-based organizations, and other community-led groups across Boulder to host intimate private readings of the powerful stories of the four women living in Sanctuary in Colorado.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Shoebox Stories Podcast

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Crime/Abuse Victims
Females
Hispanic, Latino Heritage
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Description

Shoebox Stories is a unique "story-holding" project, where people stand in another person's shoes by reading aloud their story, saying their words and feeling the weight they carry.

Holding another person's story is both an honor and a responsibility. Readers are entrusted, for a moment, with their struggles, hopes and dreams. As a reader, you are not saying that you agree with everything this person says. You are simply agreeing to refrain from judgment and stand for a moment in their shoes, to see things through their eyes. Motus will ask a national leaders to stand in the shoes of a person whose experience is typically underrepresented in the media and read their autobiographical story aloud in this innovative new podcast experience.

Over multiple seasons, Shoebox Stories will share the voices and stories of people who are often negatively portrayed in the media such as the undocumented, law enforcement and the formerly incarcerated.

Season one will launch with the UndocuAmerica Series of 10-12 episodes focused on the experience of DREAMers (Development Relief for Alien Minors) and pair them with national voices to share ten deeply moving stories from the undocumented community. Confirmed national voices/readers for season one so far include: Gloria Steinem (writer/activist), Jorge Ramos (journalist) and Nicholas Kristof (NYTimes Op-Ed columnist). This series aims at interrupting dehumanizing portrayals of immigrants by encouraging thoughtful engagement on the challenges facing the undocumented community and the assets they are to our country.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

UndocuAmerica

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

At-Risk Populations
Ethnic/Racial Minorities
Females
Hispanic, Latino Heritage
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges

Description

UndocuAmerica embraces the use of a vibrant arts platform to invigorate discussion on one of the most pressing issues of our time: immigration to the United States and the plight of undocumented immigrants. This project humanizes undocumented immigrants, and decreases susceptibility to negative media (of all forms) by making their stories accessible to a wide diversity of national audiences through the UndocuAmerica Podcast and Sanctuary Performance Series, and in Colorado through photojournalism, newspaper series, theater performances, radio, and film.

UndocuAmerica pairs undocumented leaders with national cultural voices, as well as leaders in law enforcement, business and education to help bridge the widening gap in the immigration debate. This program will reach millions of people, empower undocumented leaders, and enlist dominant cultural leaders to be ambassadors for the undocumented community among their anti-immigrant relatives, co-workers and neighbors, with whom they have real influence.

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Evidence of Program's Success

UndocuAmerica takes what Motus has learned locally in Colorado through creating arts-based dialogue on immigration, and uses podcast, radio, live-streaming and journalism to scale our impactful programming. We have learned that the most effective way of changing the hearts and minds of anti-immigrant constituencies is through enlisting more immigrant-friendly members of their family, friends, and co-workers with strategic materials they can use as storytelling ambassadors for the undocumented community.

Law Enforcement Leaders Read DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

General population
Hispanic, Latino Heritage
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges

Description

Motus Theater achieved national visibility and impacted the national conversation on immigration with the performance "Law Enforcement Leaders Read Do You Know Who I Am?" On April 30th, 2017, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, Longmont Public Safety Chief Mike Butler, Boulder Police Chief Greg Testa, Louisville Police Chief David Hayes, Lafayette Police Chief Rick Bashor, CU-Boulder's Vice Chancellor of Safety Melissa Zak, and CU Police Chief Ken Koch read the stories of DACA students from Motus Theater autobiographical monologue projects. The goal of the performance was not only to show solidarity toward the challenges facing immigrants in the US, but also to challenge the false association between documentation status and criminality. 250 people watched the performance live and 13,000 more watched it via livestream and online. Plus millions more heard or read about it through NPR, the Associated Press, USA Today, Latino USA, as well as front page stories in the local news. You can watch the highlights of the performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byvJJswZZhM

Motus Theater is finishing the production of a film of the performance which will be distributed for free to local and national law enforcement agencies for personnel trainings and community outreach.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

"The law enforcement reading on April 30th was a first in the nation event. This film will help develop an important narrative that refutes the myth that there is a correlation between documentation status and being a criminal." - Boulder County District Attorney, Stan Garnett

"Standing beside these young people, and reading their stories was moving for all of us, and powerful for the audience... Barriers were broken down, relationships formed, and mutual respect established. Relationship building like this, using this format, could probably solve a lot of various issues in many communities across this country"! - Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle

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