Motus was set up in Rimini in 1991 by Enrico Casagrande and Daniela Francesconi Nicolò. Both studied in Urbino where they met at the university theatre group Atarassia and E.A.S.T. (European Associations of Students of Theatre). After graduation (respectively in History of Economics and Sociology) they moved to Rimini where they had the idea of forming an independent group which was initially called Opere dell'ingegno.
In 1991 they put on Stati d'assedio, inspired by Albert Camus’ play L’état de siège, a show which involved the public in a mobile itinerary. Right from this early experience (First Prize Coordination Young Italian Artists, Spazio Proposta, Santarcangelo Festival '91) the “polymorphic” nature of the new artistic formation was delineated: over and above actors, the project included musicians, graphic artists and sculptors.
Thenceforth there has been an ongoing attempt to expand, spread and blend the theatre experience beyond the boundaries between genres.In 1992 the group changed its name to Motus. This was the start of a long series of productions and small events curated and directed by both Enrico and Daniela, the former particularly interested in mise-en-scène and the latter in the dramaturgical process and writing. Both of them, moreover, often acted in the shows.
In the same year they produced Strada Principale and Strade Secondarie, dedicated to Paul Klee and Samuel Beckett and presented at the Festival Off in Avignon and at the Edinburgh Fringe.
In 1993, for the Scenario prize, they created AID. Zona ad alta tensione. With this show, and subsequent to Enrico and Daniela’s long trip in Morocco, they began collaborating with Moroccan students and workers, setting up a series of initiatives aimed at interchange with Islamic culture and culminating in their organisation of the project Maghreb e Senegal, fra letteratura ed oralità. I teatri della differenza for DAMS of Bologna (Teatro la Soffitta), in collaboration with Ravenna Teatro.
In 1994 the two artists, for the Santarcangelo Festival for Sarajevo, created Cassandra. Interrogazioni sulla necessità dello sguardo, inspired by Christa Wolf’s Cassandra and set entirely in their own home. The video Sulla necessità dello sguardo, presented at the Riccione TTV Festival, marked Motus’ first encounter with video images.
L'occhio belva (1995), dedicated to Samuel Beckett and premiered at the Interzona cold-storage premises in Verona, paved the way to a fine season of theatre events that saw the company acknowledged as a leading exponent of the so named Romagna felix of experimental theatre. The event was repeated on the four floors of the former Children’s Hospital in Rimini, today the Gallery of Contemporary Art, on the occasion of the Santarcangelo Festival '95: it was an itinerant show involving up to 15 people, actors, sculptors, musicians and cameramen. In that period Motus, under the heading “Rudimentary Systems”, shot numerous micro-films and installations in Super 8.
With the explosive show Catrame, premiered in 1996 at the Teatro Petrella in Longiano and inspired by J. G. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash, Motus achieved recognition at national and international level.
In 1998 O.F. ovvero Orlando Furioso impunemente eseguito da Motus debuted at the Rotonda della Besana for the Festival Teatri 90 of Milan. The video of the show, directed by Enrico Casagrande, Daniela Nicolò and David Zamagni, won the Production Prize at the TTV Festival Riccione '99, and the show itself made an important tour of Italy and Eastern Europe.
In November 1999 Motus was awarded the Special Ubu Prize “for the insistent and creative coherency of visionary research into redesigning spaces and filtering myths.” In the same year the magazine “Lo straniero”, editor Goffredo Fofi, awarded the group the Young Talent Prize for the following reasons: "After interesting and provocative rehearsals the group put on Orlando Furioso which, with a brilliant visual-sound aesthetic reminiscent of Romagnol origins (from Fellini to Casadei) but also sharing a post-modern collective imagination that runs from comics to photography, painting and fashion, tackled an ironic interpretation of the “crisis of the male”, particularly underscored by Deleuze and other analysts of our bizarre and troubled contemporaneity".
In 2000 Motus began a new reconnaissance into the universes of Rainer Maria Rilke and Jean Cocteau, centred around the Orpheus myth. A 20 day workshop in Sarajevo during the Young Artists of Europe and the Mediterranean Biennale resulted in the event Overhead Orpheus – also put on at the Rome Youth Biennale with the collaboration of the RomaEuropa Foundation – and in the same year at the Kismet theatre in Bari Orpheus glance debuted, a show that had a long and successful tour and was voted best play by the public in Bergen, Norway.
In November 2000 in Milan the Ubu Prizes judges awarded the company the Special Ubu Prize for the "Project Prototipo, independently run by Fanny&Alexander, Masque Teatro, Motus and Teatrino Clandestino at Interzona in Verona, in the context of the Venice Biennale, for the planning and implementation of a profitable experience of collaboration, in an extraordinary space, among young theatre companies."
In the same year the show Visio gloriosa, which debuted at the Teatro Argentina in Rome, then managed by Mario Martone, won the competition "Seven shows for a new Italian theatre for 2000". Then the new theatre project Rooms came into being, on the theme of hotel rooms, which with the show Twin Rooms enjoyed important co-production with the Venice Theatre Biennale and the International Network Temps d'Image of Paris (with which Motus still collaborates today). The stage in this case became an actual set with theatre and filmic narration side by side.
In May 2002, again in the context of the Rooms project, Splendid's debuted at the Grand Hotel Plaza in Rome. The show is drawn from a little known text of the same name by Jean Genet, translated into Italian by Franco Quadri. On this original mise-en-scène, performed in hotels throughout Europe, Motus shot its first medium-length video, co-produced by the Riccione TTV Festival 2004.
In December 2002, crowning two years of intense work, the company was awarded its third Special Ubu Prize "for the play of splitting images and narrative in the evolution of the Rooms Project." The show Splendid's was a finalist in the most prestigious category Show of the Year.
Twin rooms won the prize for best foreign show in Montreal, Canada, where it was performed in February 2003 after being presented in Spain, France, Belgium, Germany and Croatia.
In 2003 a new artistic voyage began through the words and images of Pier Paolo Pasolini: a journey inaugurated with the special event Come un cane senza padrone, presented in the context of the project Petrolio, curated by Mario Martone in Naples. Subsequently Motus moved to France and after two months’ work at the international production centre TNB in Rennes (Thèâtre National de Bretagne) debuted in April 2004 with L'Ospite, inspired by Pasolini’s novel Teorema. Like the shows of the Rooms project it covered a vast circuit in France, Spain and Belgium.
The following year the publishing house UBU Libri of Milan brought out Io vivo nelle cose. Appunti di viaggio da Rooms a Pasolini, by Enrico Casagrande and Daniela Nicolò, in its series "I libri quadrati".
In 2005 work began on another author maudit, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, with the documentary-project Piccoli Episodi di fascismo quotidiano, inspired by Pre-paradise sorry now, and with the perturbing 2006 show Rumore Rosa, freely inspired by The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. Both plays were first staged at the Teatro Dimora dell'Arboreto in Mondaino, later touring in France and Belgium and, in 2008, appearing at the Festival Santiago Mil in Santiago, Chile.
In 2006 Enrico Casagrande joined the artistic commission of the Province of Rimini Argo Navis Project.
In spring 2007 Motus began a specific, almost documentary exploration of adolescence, given form in the project X(ics)Racconti crudeli della giovinezza which includes 4 shows, a film and eclectic moments of performance. The eye thus shifted to city outskirts and today’s youth, disoriented and dispersed in the metropolitan scenario, to seize and give voice to those forms of anomalous resistance among adolescents of the French, German and Italian banlieues. X.01 movimento primo debuted at the Venice Dance Biennale in June 2007, X.02 movimento secondo was presented at the Théâtre de la Ville di Valence in France, X.03 Halle Neustadt in June 2008 at the prestigious Festival Theater der Welt in Halle, Germany and lastly, X.04 Napoli in April 2009 at the Teatro San Ferdinando in Naples.
In 2009 the project Syrma Antigónes was begun, developed in a relationship of continuity with the previous production Ics (X) Racconti crudeli della giovinezza: the idea was to carry out an analysis of the relationship/conflict between generations, taking the tragic figure of Antigone as an archetype of struggle and resistance. Three contests arose from the project – neither shows nor performances but “contests”, meaning confrontations/clashes between two actors only: Let The sunshine In, Too Late and Iovadovia. The journey however was completed in autumn 2010 with the premiere, at the Festival Vie di Modena, of the show Alexis. A greek tragedy..
In 2010 Enrico Casagrande, on behalf of the whole company, was artistic director of the 40th Santarcangelo Festival, part of a three year project that envisages horizontal collaboration with another two important theatre companies in the region: Societas Raffaello Sanzio of Cesena (2009) and Teatro delle Albe of Ravenna (2011).