Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 6, 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 light rail does more than connect communities. It also unites people and they may board the train with different destinations but share the same journey. And it's often routine and sometimes full of surprises. That was the case in July when passengers were ambushed by art.

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

Mark Jacobson:
We're Motion Theatre Company. And we are dedicated to performing works of contemporary theater on the light rail. Our goal is to make it a much more accessible art form. My name is Mark Jacobson and this was kind of my idea and fortunately, 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:
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 location and slowly hook up a pedal and turn it right side up and then people know the show is on. ¶¶ [Music] ¶¶ And it kind of comes out of nowhere and people are looking around, what's going on here? [Singing]
We try and keep it fresh and tight and short so we have four to five pieces and then get off the train and get back on another one. We don't do too much so not to overwhelm the people not 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's -- it surprised me. It's been incredibly surprising to me how receptive people have been and how excited they get. [Applause]

Mark Jacobson:
Do you like what you're hearing. We're on youtube and facebook and twitter. It's Motion Theatre and if you don't, we appreciate your patience and tolerance and we only have a couple more for you.

Passenger:
We were sitting at the other end and we were like, what's going on. And -- ¶¶ [Music] ¶¶

Jesse Mapstead:
It's a blast. It's so much fun watching people's reactions when they're surprised or shocked or confused. It's a blast. We'll have people that try and take a video of what we do through their cellphone or if they have a camera, they'll try and do that. We have had people miss their stops several times for us.

David Majure:
Some things are hard to miss, like Katrina letting loose. ¶¶ [Music] ¶¶
Katrina Montgomery:
That -- that very widely gets reaction. [Applause] ¶¶ [Music] ¶¶

Emily Foree:
Musical theater and things when I was a young kid and through high school and haven't really done anything for a number of years and 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. Stephen has a degree in music composition. He's a recent ASU graduate who takes pride in making sure everyone hits all the right notes.

Stephen Schermitzler:
It can mean the difference between somebody wanting to know more about theater and somebody completely dismissing the entire genre of musical theater altogether. So the music 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 in the light rail has its 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 Theatre Company hopes it 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.

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. [Singin]

Ted Simons:
Motion Theatre Company performers are back in school. They're from Arizona but attend universities in several states. No word if and when they'll be performing again.

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