What: “Rocks Karma Arrows” performance in Spanish
When: 2 p.m. July 29
Where: CU’s Black Box Theater
Cost: $16-18; free for non-English speakers.
More: one-action.org. Call One Action for info on their sliding scale (for all shows) at 303-440-3682.
The cast of Boulder’s “Rocks Karma Arrows” is standing behind the show’s message of equality and inclusiveness — not just by walking the walk, but talking the talk.
The show’s final performance will be presented in Spanish.
“The Spanish population is a vibrant and important part of our community,” said director Kirsten Wilson. “We wanted this to be community-wide conversation, and it needed to be in at least two languages to create a stimulating conversation for the entire community.”
The multimedia show — which examines Boulder history and local historical figures, like Chief Niwot, in the context of race and class — opened Thursday at the University of Colorado’s Black Box Theater and will play for nearly three weeks. Spanish-speakers who are not fluent in English can attend the final performance in Spanish for free.
“Rocks Karma Arrows” — presented by One Action-One Boulder — originally opened in 2009. But Wilson said that it sold out so quickly, she knew they needed to bring it back to Boulder. The show’s original run did not include a Spanish-language performance.
Wilson, who also has an acting part in the show, said she has never worked on a piece that included a second-language performance.
“About half of the cast is bilingual or speaks Spanish fluently,” she said. “The other half are like me and don’t have the experience with the language, so it’s definitely challenging, but it’s also worth it.”
Alexis Miles, who portrays Boulder historian Modupe Labode in the show, said she hasn’t taken Spanish since high school, “which was a long time ago.”
“This is going to be quite a stretch for me, but I’m thrilled that we’re going to do it,” Miles said. “I want to serve the audience, and in order to serve them well, they need to be able to understand what I’m saying.”
Luckily, the actors will be able to read their lines in Spanish from scripts hidden in props, like books carried by their characters, throughout the show.
Miles said she has begun an online Spanish class offered through the Boulder library, but with only a few weeks until the performance, she is focusing on the phonetics rather than learning the language.
“I’ll understand everything I’m saying because of the other performances,” Miles said. “But it’s more important to make sure the audience is understanding it.”
The challenge has also pushed Miles to learn about the culture of Boulder’s Spanish-speaking population, gaining respect and understanding about how to interact with the community, she said — lessons that her character will hopefully convey to the audience as well.
Jim Walker, a teacher at CU, said he will be reading most of his lines as he plays the character of local historian Dan Corson during the final show.
Walker is also not fluent in Spanish but, like the rest of the cast, is glad to put in the extra work to learn the lines in a second language if it helps demonstrate the show’s message.
“The real aim of the whole project, is about equity and inclusion through Boulder’s history,” Walker said. “We don’t live in a monolingual or monocultural society, so we are trying to make the show as inclusive as possible.”
The cast said while they’re trying to mimic the themes of the show, they realize ending the run with a Spanish-language performance is not the perfect solution.
“I’m sure some people will think, ‘where are the other translations?’ But we’re doing the best we can,” Walker said. “One of big scenes in the show is about being skillful … in moving the arrow forward.”