For a 3 minute trailer on Rocks Karma Arrows and additional information, click here.
This performance is a very, very good example of the role theater can play in renewing and building community. The audience I was part of was deeply affected, engaged and challenged, and, most unusually, really wanting to talk about their personal history and relationship to what the performance was addressing…. an excellent and effective example of art that changes people’s lives and perspectives, educates and more rare, does so with a high level of artistic rigor and quality. – Wendell Beavers, Director, MFA in Contemporary Performance, Naropa University
Rocks Karma Arrows is a multimedia contemporary theater piece looking at Boulder history through the lens of race and class. The piece reveals layers of stories embedded in the land we walk everyday. Though the piece focuses on the 150 years since the city was founded, the context for the drama is the larger flow of history from a time when Boulder was covered by a shallow sea. 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 Kirsten Wilson Productions and Motus Theater and is part of the Niwot’s Arrow community conversation project.
Community Leaders Respond to Rocks Karma Arrows
Pete Salas (Diversity Liaison, City of Boulder): “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!”
Ray Ramirez (Native American Rights Fund): “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.”
Malaika Pettigrew (Institute for African American Leadership): “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.”
Angelique Espinoza (Former Boulder City Council; Except of her Letter to the Boulder City Council): “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.”
Dan Corson (Boulder historian and former Boulder City Council Representative): “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.”
Betty Ball (Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice): “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.”