Catalogue description motiroti archive

This record is held by Future Histories - Black Performance and Carnival Archive

Details of MR
Reference: MR
Title: motiroti archive

Records of the administration and productions of motiroti since 1991 and material relating to projects of Ali Zaidi and Keith Khan, individually and in partnership, pre- and post-1991. Comprises administrative and finance files, 1991-; production files, 1989-; storyboards, production photographs, sketches of costumes and scenery, poster and publicity artwork, flyers and programmes, CDs and video recordings of performances and live events, 1986-2004 ; press cuttings, reviews and other commentaries on performances, 1990-2004; material on collaborating arts companies and individual artists.


The motiroti archive is a rich mixture documenting the last 20 years of work within the Asian and black performing arts sector. The archive is particularly strong in visual material from storyboards to production pohotographs, initial costume sketches to poster artwork, flyers and programmes to CDs and videos. The range of material enables all stages of the evolving productions to be studied from pre-production brainstorming sessions through to videos of the the final performances and their subsequent developments. The design ingenuity and colourful complexity of motiroti staging is fully represented in the archive, whilst the programmes are particularly valuable for the insights provided into the ideas behind the performances. Also, presscuttings and other reviews and commentaries, written and visual, have been comprehensively collected and preserved to give a thorough record of the critical assessment of motiroti's achievements. The visual material is supported and enhance d by production files covering the artistic realisation of projects and project administration files which document the practicalities and logistics of coordinating and staging the performances. The administrative files show the development of the company over its 19 years from notes of ad hoc planning meetings to the fully structured business plan. Incidentally these files also provide a history of arts funding in the UK from the perspective of the applicant. In addition, because of the way in which motiroti works, the archive provides significant information on many different companies and individual performers that have worked with and for them, which might otherwise be unrecorded.


The archive has been catalogued as part of Future Histories and Access to Archives (A2A) project Re-membering Asian Performance.

Date: 1986-

The material has been arranged in four sub-fonds: Administration/Funding; Finance; Productions/Projects with sub-sub-fonds for each project; Pre-motoroti & other projects with sub-sub-fonds for each project; and two series: Keith Khan's files; Pressbooks.

Held by: Future Histories - Black Performance and Carnival Archive, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Khan, Keith

Zaidi, Ali

motiroti, 1986-

Physical description: 20 linear metres
Restrictions on use:

On 30th March 2014 motiroti transferred all copyright and other rights to Future Histories except where copyright already exists with the original publisher.

Access conditions:

Files containing records dated after 2000 may be subject to closure


Public access to the archive at the motiroti office is by appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays. To book an appointment the public should contact Alison Bean at motiroti:

  • Asian peoples
  • Black theatre
  • Carnival arts
  • Ethnic groups
  • Theatre
  • Theatre management
Administrative / biographical background:

motiroti is an internationally acclaimed arts organization which was formally established in 1990. It evolved from the collaboration between artists Keith Khan and Ali Zaidi. The company is based in London and is dedicated to developing multi-faceted projects which explore diversity in all its forms. Its work centres on perceptions of identity and is led by participation, new technology, and design. Its work illustrates the complexities and contradictions of contemporary life to resonate with a whole range of people from different backgrounds. The company produce innovative exhibitions, events and experience-led installations as well as performances which examine cultural and social values, challenge racial stereotypes and aim to precipitate change. The projects involve practitioners from all disciplines within visual arts, multi-media, live art, sports, experimental theatre and socially engaged practice, as well as individuals and communities from other creative and learning industries. The work aims to blur art-form specialism to encourage a cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural dialogue. Audience participation is crucial to motiroti artistic practice so that often the final work evolves from the direct engagement of the participants. motiroti projects have been staged in a variety of locations from the streets of Notting Hill and Brick Lane to Tate Modern and the Royal Albert Hall, in towns and cities as varied as Bristol, Walsall, Reading, Barrow-in-Furness and Manchester, and overseas in India, Pakistan, South Africa and the States.


Projects have included the first Bollywood musical to be devised and performed in the UK: "Moti Roti Puttli Chunni", in 1993, and the current touring production "Alladeen" exploring the reality of Indian call centres through the use of new technologies on stage. In 2002, for the Queen's Golden Jubilee, the company was commissioned to produce "Celebration Commonwealth", for which it worked with 4,000 artists and participants. A central part of the project was the Rainbow of Wishes which featured contributions from schoolchildren in every Commonwealth nation. The children put their wishes for the future on coloured triangles supplied by motiroti in the project boxes sent to each school. The wishes were mounted on large arched structures through which the Queen entered the grounds of Buckingham Palace at the end of the parade. motiroti has twice received the Time Out Dance and Performance Award and has recently been awarded an OBIE for Alladeen. Alongside performance motiroti delivers a range of training and developmental programmes aimed at emergent and established black and Asian arts practitioners as well as those traditionally excluded from participation in the arts.

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