Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 26, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Motion Theatre Company


  • During the last week of July, Motion Theatre Company performed works of contemporary theater on the METRO light rail. Find out why these performers have spent the last two summers ambushing people with art.
Category: The Arts

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The valley's metro later does more than connect communities. It unites people and they may board the train with different destinations but share the same journey. Sometimes it's full of surprises when as David Majure reports, passengers were ambushed by art.

David Majure: You're quietly riding the train, off in your own world, and then -- it hits you. An explosion of sound. [Singing]

Mark Jacobson: We're the motion theater company and dedicated to performing work of contemporary theater on the light rail. Our goal is to make it a much more accessible art form so it's not really a privileged thing. My name is mark Jacobson and this was my idea and I have a wonderful group of friend who's embraced my crazy scheme and helped make a silly idea a reality. ¶¶ [Music] ¶¶ We try to ambush people with art.

David Majure: But the element of surprise can be difficult to achieve for a man lugging a piano.

Stephen Schermitzler: There's no secret behind that. I come on with a keyboard and try and look as inconspicuous as possible. I'll usually sit for a while with the keyboard stood up as if I'm traveling with it to some other location and slowly hook a pedal up and turn it right side up and then people know the show is on. ¶¶ [Music] ¶¶

Mark Jacobson: And it comes out of nowhere and people look around, what's going on here? We try and keep it fresh and tight and short. So we have four to five pieces and then we get off the train and get back on another one. We don't do too much. So not to overwhelm those who aren't liking it so much. ¶¶

Katrina Montgomery: I don't want to annoy people. Show tunes can be very annoying. I would be the first to admit that. It surprised me. It's been incredibly surprising to me how -- how receptive people have been and how excited they get. [Applause]

Mark Jacobsen: You like what you're hearing, we're on youtube and facebook and if you don't, we appreciate your patience and tolerance and we only have a couple more for you.

Passenger: We were like -- what's going on? And they were like -- ¶¶ [Music] ¶¶

Jesse Mapstead: It's a blast. So much fun watching people's reactions when they're surprised or shocked or confused. It's a blast.

Stephen Schermitzler: We'll have people that try and take a video of what we do through their cellphones or if they have a camera on board, they'll try and do that.
Katrina Montgomery: We've had people miss their stops several times.

David Majure: Some things are hard to miss, like Katrina letting loose. ¶¶ [Music] ¶¶

Katrina Montgomery: That -- that very widely gets reaction. ¶¶ [Music] ¶¶

Emily Foree: I do musical theater and theater thing when I was a young kid and in high school and I haven't done anything for a number of years and I had forgotten how much I really enjoyed it.

David Majure: They sing, they dance, and they act. But most of the performers are not theater or music majors. Steven has a degree in music composition. A recent ASU graduate who takes pride in making sure everyone hits all the right notes.

Stephen Schermitzler: It can be the difference between somebody wanting to know more about theater and somebody completely dismissing the entire genre of musical theater altogether. So the musical process is incredibly important.

David Majure: Quality is key. That's why the company rehearsed for about a month before taking the show on the road. Performing has challenges. There's noise and other distractions. Limited room or standing room only. And the stopping and starting is a true test of balance. But motion theater company hope it is has the perfect balance of songs and scenes to make a routine ride unforgettable. And if they happen to take you by surprise, you just might be surprised by where their songs will take you. ¶¶ [Music] ¶¶

Emily Foree: I think that art in the community and in the public, for free, is one of the greatest things that a city and community can have. And I think that this adds a different texture to that landscape of art in the community.

Ted Simons: Motion theater company's performers are now back in school. They're from Arizona but attend universities in several states. No word if or when they will return.


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