Rocks Karma Arrows, A Motus Theater Production


Rocks Karma Arrows is a multimedia contemporary theater piece looking at Boulder history through the lens of race and class. Historical figures, like the great Chief Niwot, come alive to tell the story of the early founding of Boulder and the final massacre at Sand Creek. Interviews with local historians and Buddhist monks are woven with historical photographs and film into the drama. At times the photographic images completely take over 180° of the theatrical space so that actors are literally immersed in the history – interacting with the photos, struggling with the voices of the past, and trying to understand how those voices echo in the present. Rocks Karma Arrows is a production of  Motus Theater and is part of the Niwot’s Arrow community conversation project.


Rocks Karma Arrows performances take place Thursdays – Sundays, July 12 – July 29, 2012 at CU’s ATLAS Black Box Theater. Please check our events calendar or the ATLAS website for upcoming showtimes & tickets.

Daily Camera Review

Rocks Karma Arrows is packed with as much information as a semester of lectures, but it’s never a drag.

It employs a diverse set of performance styles and techniques, but it’s highly accessible and never pretentious.

It’s a look in the mirror — often an uncomfortable one — but it’s not heavy handed, nor does it peddle guilt or sell shame.

It covers enough ground to leave you breathless, yet gives you room to breathe and think and, finally, to respond.
read full review

— Mark Collins, Daily Camera

Community Leaders Respond…

Kirsten Wilson’s production of Rocks Karma Arrows provides a critically needed perspective to any conversation or consideration of local history, including the City of Boulder. The history of indigenous and oppressed people are much too often excluded in favor of the popular notion that the ‘west was won’ and that ‘progress’ was achieved only through the sacrifice of the Euro-American settlers and their descendants. It is essential that community histories be inclusive of the contributions, sacrifices and suffering of the non-dominant communities. Rocks Karma Arrows provides a sobering glimpse into the other often ignored ‘other’ history of our community. I highly recommend it!

— Pete Salas
Diversity Liaison, City of Boulder

The Rocks Karma Arrows production presented the history of Boulder Valley and the City of Boulder in a very unique and honest way. This is a history that all Boulder county citizens need to be aware of – its sacredness to its planned isolation.

— Ray Ramirez
Native American Rights Fund

Have you ever wondered why so many major streets in Boulder are named after Native Americans? Or asked if the “Curse of Chief Niwot” is truth or myth? I have always wondered about how Boulder got to be the place it is today. As a teacher, I appreciate the true value of knowing one’s history to better assess the present and determine the future. Rocks Karma and Arrows takes us on a journey into the history of Boulder and surrounding counties. It is an excellent work of art that fulfills a mandate long ignored in this city, to know how we came to be. It is a valuable resource one can use as a base for growth and transformation of a community.

— Malaika Pettigrew
Institute for African American Leadership

Esteemed Colleagues: Please find time to see “Rocks Karma Arrows,” a Boulder history theater piece as part of Sesquicentennial. I saw it last night and I believe it offers a perspective on Boulder’s history that is essential to anyone who wishes to serve our whole community well. Additionally, your presence will further demonstrate your commitment as a potential leader to strengthening a community which is welcoming, inclusive and safe for all. Besides, it is a wonderful piece, inspiring and skillfully executed.

— Angelique Espinoza
Former Boulder City Council; Excerpt of Letter to Boulder City Council

Boulder’s histories often avoid or minimize the role of discrimination, elitism and racism. This unique theatrical production brings forward these issues in a manner one won’t soon forget.

— Dan Corson
Boulder historian and former Boulder City Council Representative

I attended an advanced showing of Rocks Karma Arrows and was awed by it. Knowing some of the sad history of Colorado, I was anxious to learn more, hopefully, on a deeper level. I was not disappointed. I did learn a lot, and I was totally captivated throughout the entire piece. It is difficult to present such sad and horrifying truths in a manner that deeply touches people and motivates them into action, rather than overwhelming them and making them want to close down and not hear or see any more. Kirsten has accomplished that superbly. I strongly recommend Rocks Karma Arrows to anyone wanting a clearer understanding Boulder’s roots and how it came to be like it is.

— Betty Ball
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice


About the Director

Kirsten Wilson has been working since 1991 as an interdisciplanary performance artist, director, teacher and improvisational performer using original theater to create community conversation.  She is the only artist from Boulder to receive “Artistic Innovator” status from the Center for Media, Arts Performance at ATLAS (Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society at the University of Colorado at Boulder). She received this award in 2009 during a part-time artist and residency from ATLAS for Rocks Karma Arrows.

Wilson is currently the creator and project holder for One Action Boulder County/Niwot’s Arrow an innovative year-long arts-based community conversation project using the arts to inspire everyone in Boulder to learn, talk and take action towards racial and economic justice. It brings together leading local organizations committed to inclusive, equitable community.

Wilson developed multiple art practices and is best known for, Letting the Body Speak: The Autobiographical Monologue Class – A life transformative 10-week autobiographical monologue workshop she developed in 1994. She is also a master playback improv theater practitioner and teacher.