Motus Theater Sets the Stage for Undocumented Voices

Since 2013, Motus Theater has been working on advancing the conversation around issues of immigration and documentation in the United States, by working closely with community leaders to illuminate the realities and challenges of living as an undocumented person. On Monday, January 21st, 2019, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, the Motus Theater crew will debut two performances of their new production, “UndocuMonologues”, featuring narratives written by people living with undocumented status in the U.S., in their own words.

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.
— motustheater.org

Our guest blog post this week is by Laura Peniche, Project and Engagement Manager at Motus Theater, an organization driven by community and powered by a drive to create a more just world for everyone.


Interrupting Stereotypes

In 2018, Motus Theater received an Arts in Society grant for their original UnDocuAmerica Performance and Media Project” , to help create and present professional, autobiographical monologues written and performed by undocumented community leaders living in the United States, about the challenges they and their communities are facing today. As stated in their press release, “UndocuAmerica interrupts the dehumanizing portrayals of immigrants by encouraging thoughtful engagement on the challenges facing the undocumented community and the assets immigrants bring to our country.” The project is wide ranging in scope and Motus Theater hopes to reach a national audience through the performances, as well as a new podcast and speaker series.


Image description: Four young people of color standing defiantly in front of the words, “Despite the pain, tears, criminalization, erasure and heartache, WE EXIST!” Small words at the bottom of the image by their feet read, “Bigger than any BORDER” - artwork by  Julio Salgado . The artist’s work is featured throughout “UndocuMonologues”.

Image description: Four young people of color standing defiantly in front of the words, “Despite the pain, tears, criminalization, erasure and heartache, WE EXIST!” Small words at the bottom of the image by their feet read, “Bigger than any BORDER” - artwork by Julio Salgado. The artist’s work is featured throughout “UndocuMonologues”.


Shifting Perspectives

This year, the UndocuAmerica Performance & Media Project is amplifying stories told by undocumented voices, in their own words, at the national level. Through UndocuMonologue presentations open to the public featuring the original writers and performers, allied performances (such as our previous readings of Dreamer’s stories by law enforcement leaders of Boulder County and last summer’s collaborative performance with Yo-Yo Ma), and now also our new UndocuPodcast will continue lifting up voices and perspectives that are too often ignored or overlooked in the ongoing public conversations about U.S. immigration policy. A new UndocuPodcast will launch later this year, and it will be the first podcast completely focused on the stories and lives of undocumented Americans, and the reactions to their stories by their allies. We will pair 10 national leaders with 10 DACAmented monologists and share their stories, followed by one-on-one conversation on air, discussing their perspectives, experiences, similarities and how the stories resonated with them.

 

Yo-Yo Ma performs a cello response to the story of Motus Theater writer, Ana Casas, about her brother’s deportation; it is told in tandem with Stan Garnett, the former Boulder County District Attorney at the time of the deportation. Performance presented August 2, 2018, in Denver, CO, at the Youth on Record Block Party, organized as part of the Culture in Action components of Yo-Yo Ma’s Six Evolutions tour.

 
Laura Peniche shares her monologue on stage at a preview-private reading of Motus Theater’s new UnDocuMonologues in Boulder, Colorado. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

Laura Peniche shares her monologue on stage at a preview-private reading of Motus Theater’s new UnDocuMonologues in Boulder, Colorado. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

On the Importance of Telling Our Own Stories

As Motus’ Project & Engagement Manager, I’m thrilled to be working on this ambitious and critical project. It’s a great joy to be able to go to work every day to collaborate with a group of amazing individuals who are so determined to challenge the rhetoric that has been imposed by mainstream media, and even our own politicians to portray a negative image about immigrants in the U.S.. Immigrants, who much like me, have come here in search of a better life and expanding opportunities for themselves and their families. On a personal level, I believe this project has been a blessing to me. It has equipped me with the tools necessary to advocate for myself using my own story in a very powerful and strategic way. Before my work with Motus Theater, I was often sharing my story in the community, hoping it would change someone’s heart and mind and that was fine. Through my work with Motus Theater, I now know that every word that we write together is carefully crafted, because I know both Motus Theater and I share the same vision of bringing people together through conversation.

 
Motus Theater’s UndocuMonologues Writers/Performers at a preview-private reading for friends and allies in Boulder, Colorado. Photo by  Michael Ensminger

Motus Theater’s UndocuMonologues Writers/Performers at a preview-private reading for friends and allies in Boulder, Colorado. Photo by Michael Ensminger

National Debut of UndocuMonologues

I hope you can join Motus Theater and our DACAmented monologuists on this upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 21st, 2019 at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder, CO, for the national premiere of the UndocuMonologues. We are offering two performances, first a free, family-friendly performance sponsored by the Human Relations Commission of the City of Boulder, at 300 PM, followed by a ticketed, evening performance titled UndocuMonologues Unplugged!, featuring monologues with adult content, at 600 PM. In both performances, you’ll hear a variety of voices intertwined with the beautiful singing of Teresita Lozano in the afternoon and Robert Johnson in the evening, as well as the compelling artwork of UndocuQueer artivist Julio Salgado, creating a multi-sensory experience that you will never forget. I hope to see you at the theater! Together we will uplift the powerful stories of DACAmented leaders in our community and disrupt the dehumanization of immigrants who are in reality, very valuable assets in our communities.

 
The artwork of  Julio Salgado  will be woven into the production of UndocuMonologues. Photo by  Jesus Iñiguez .

The artwork of Julio Salgado will be woven into the production of UndocuMonologues. Photo by Jesus Iñiguez.

 

Learn More

Support Motus Theater and get involved by visiting their website and following them on twitter and Facebook.


Funding the Arts in Colorado

Arts in Society is a collaborative grantmaking program founded in 2016 through a partnership between Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Hemera Foundation and Colorado Creative Industries. Two year grants of up to $50,000 per project administered through RedLine Contemporary Art Center, located in Denver, Colorado.

The purpose of Arts in Society is to foster cross-sector work through the arts, by supporting the integration of arts and culture into multiple disciplines critical to the health and well-being of Coloradans.

The Arts in Society grant program funds projects that engage arts organizations and individual artists as partners in illuminating and finding solutions to a wide array of civic and social challenges faced by our communities.

Visit our website to learn more and you can follow us @artsinsociety on Instagram and Facebook.


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