Straight Shooting

When Kirsten Wilson took on the task of molding a multimedia performance around the theme of Boulder’s Sesquicentennial celebration, she clearly chose the hard road, partly by studying the town’s formation in terms of its iniquities. The resulting work, Rocks Karma Arrows, strays in and out of Boulder’s 150-year past, with deeper forays going as far back as the days when the area was covered by a shallow sea. But the work’s key focus is on social values, and how even the so-called Republic of Boulder isn’t always as unanimously egalitarian as you’d think.

Along the way, audiences will encounter many real regional characters, from Chief Niwot (who, though well known as a peaceful negotiator, died at Sand Creek) to a Buddhist monk, against a 180-degree backdrop of projected historical imagery meant to tie them in to the work’s ultimate intent of starting a dialogue that will potentially nudge Boulder’s future in a better direction. “Perspective on how race and class intersect is one of the hardest things for people to package and unpackage,” Wilson says. “But looking at history is a great way of rooting yourself in the land you live in. To be more engaged in the world around you, you need to know the stories of the land on which you walk.”

Rocks Karma Arrows opens July 23 at 8 p.m. in the ATLAS Black Box Theatre (18th Street and Euclid Avenue, on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus) as part of a gala celebration; performances continue on selected dates through August 2. Opening-night admission is $35; afterward, tickets range from $13 to $26 and can be reserved online at For details, go to or
July 23-25, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 26, 2 p.m.; July 30-Aug. 1, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 2, 2 p.m., 2009