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POP UP: An Artistic Treasure Hunt

Developed by the Tours Soundpainting Orchestra (France) and the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble (USA), «PoP Up» is an artistic treasure hunt. The public is guided to a series of 15-20 site-specific performances via clues on a hand-painted map. Over the course of 2-3 days, performances pop-up on the street, in windows, parks, plazas and businesses throughout one neighborhood. These short apparitions of music, dance, theater and/or visual art are inspired by interviews with local residents and business owners about that neighborhood. By injecting a series of alternately playful, poetic or poignant performances in everyday spaces, the project is designed to shift how people perceive those places and to connect community members through art. The performances are sculpted through a live-composing sign language called Soundpainting. Strike Anywhere (SA) and the Tours Soundpainting Orchestra (TSO) are two of the top Soundpainting ensembles in the world.


«PoP Up» is a creative-placemaking project. Performances are tailor-made for each neighborhood. By projecting the dreams, impressions and experiences of local residents onto everyday spaces, «PoP Up» engages a community in the creation of public art, highlights local diversity, and illuminates our shared humanity.
"Usually it is a hurricane that brings strangers together on the street, talking to one another. How wonderful, that in this case, it is art." -audience member

The Bowie Project
"The Bowie Project" is a collaboration between the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble, Austin-based Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre (A.A.D.T.) and the Bowie tribute band, The Super Creeps. The project began in 2013 and several incarnations of the piece have been performed in Austin, Texas in 2014 (Stateside at the Paramount), 2015 (Rollins Center) and 2017 (Ironwood Hall). The performance is a soundpainted mash-up of David Bowies music, interview quotes and original choreography inspired by the mercurial artist. The piece explores the man behind the mask. The show begins in 1977 and looks back over the years to 1969 plumbing the depths of his identity as he radically remakes his persona. The performers do not attempt to impersonate David Bowie. All the players represent a facet of the performer. Rotating Soundpainters allow Bowie to reflect on his past in order to reshape his present.

Soundpainting is a sign language that allows a composer to communicate with improvisers and compose in real-time with the group. Performers respond to the soundpainter's gestures sculpting their improvisations as signed. Specific pieces of set music or choreography are called up by the Soundpainter and manipulated. The soundpainter can then disrupt, remix, or riff on the material. No two shows are ever the same.


"SAME RIVER" is an improvised, interdisciplinary performance based on interviews with local residents about "fracking". Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" is a controversial gas-drilling technique that is currently employed in 34 states. "SAME RIVER" tours to areas directly affected by shale gas drilling. The show is customized to reflect each community. The ensemble performs a residency in each locale during which time it conducts interviews with a diverse array of community members. Strike Anywhere (SA) uses the collected information and personal stories to create a high-quality, improvised performance with social and political significance. At the end of the performance, SA engages the audience in an intimate reflection process and facilitates a town-hall style meeting. Partnerships with multiple community organizations at each tour site allow SA to engage a large cross-section of the community. The goal of the project is to provide a forum for meaningful dialogue, empathy, awareness and local action.

"SAME RIVER" requires presenters who are actively involved in the development and promotion of the work. Strike Anywhere establishes a main partner in each touring locale who presents the work and connects SA to other community organizations. These secondary partners provide access to interview subjects, help publicize the show, and may provide housing, rehearsal space or other resources. Strike Anywhere draws non-traditional audience in addition to regular theater-goers thanks to its partnerships and as a result of the interview process. SA has honed its expertise of touring over the last 21 years.

Established in 1997, Strike Anywhere devises original performances that are collaboratively-crafted by the ensemble. SA performances always feature live music, physical theater and modern dance. The company applies structures and concepts from American jazz to their inter-disciplinary improvisations to create performances that are provocative and alive. The ensemble has shared its work at theatres, conferences and festivals both nationally and internationally. The company has performed in Hawaii, France, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and has been featured on Radio France, NPR, German Public Radio and U.S. television.

"Call it, Hydrofracking The Play. 'Same River', features dance and improvisation based on interviews of residents in rural communities that have been turned upside down by the controversial gas-extraction method." -Brenna Walton, The New York Times - The Local

"Strike Anywhere's skill at communicating the complexity and pathos of the issue of our water, our way of life, of our relationship to the gas and oil industry infiltrating our neighborhoods was striking." -Sabrina Artel, WJFF Radio

"As NY considers drilling as many as 100,000 wells in the watershed for over 16 million people, Same River brings the human stories of those who are in the pathway of this industry to the fore." -David L'Heureux, Senior Editor,

View videos and listen to interviews about SAME RIVER on our VIDEO page.

For 20 years, the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble has been creating original, community-based and site-responsive work that engages audiences in topical issues. One of Strike Anywhere's prime compositional tools is Soundpainting, the universal sign-language for live composition.

The Soundpainting language is comprised of over 1500 signs and allows a conductor/composer to sculpt a performance in real-time with improvising performers of any discipline or genre. The technique was created by N.Y. composer Walter Thompson during the late 1970's for use with jazz musicians. It has evolved into a multidisciplinary language that is practiced in 33 countries.

Soundpainting is a radically inclusive form that bridges perceived divisions. Strike Anywhere has used the technique to unite disparate groups, to shatter the divide between audience and performer, to transcend language in international work and to democratize collaborations between community members and professional performers.

SA is the preeminent theatre company in the U.S. practicing Soundpainting. SA's Artistic Director, Leese Walker was the first actress to be soundpainted and is one of only three certified-multidisciplinary-Soundpainters in the United States. SA's musicians are some of the most experienced Soundpainting performers in the world, having worked as core members of the Walter Thompson Orchestra since the late 1980's.

Strike Anywhere is available to perform Soundpainting residencies and master classes. The company also creates "themed-Soundpaintings" and can Soundpaint any repertoire that an orchestra, theater company, band, or dance company might want to remix and use as fodder for improvisation.

"Led by founder and director Leese Walker, Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble merges music, theater, improvisation, and structured composition into a total multi-media experience 'a happening' in which art leaps off the wall and into the seat next to us."
- Asbury Park Press
Examples of previous themed-soundpaintings include:

THE BOWIE PROJECT (2017, 2015, 2014)
"The Bowie Project" is a collaboration between the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble, Austin-based Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre (A.A.D.T.) and the Bowie tribute band The Super Creeps. The performance is a soundpainted mash-up of David Bowie's music, interview quotes and original choreography inspired by the mercurial artist.

A series of 16 site-specific performances that took place on the historic pedestrian street Rue Colbert in Tours, France. The project was a collaboration between Strike Anywhere and the Tours Soundpainting Orchestra. The soundpaintings were based on interviews with neighborhood residents and shop-keepers.

A collaboration with a 65-member concert band, 15 choir members and 30 actors at Timber Creek H.S. in Fort Worth, Texas. The week-long residency culminated in a performance mash-up of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" crossed with music by Phillip Glass, Stravinski and Ravi Shankar and some pretty funky dance routines! All the material was repertoire that the students had at the ready.

EATING OUR WAY TO EXTINCTION: A Soundpainting of Epic Proportions(2007-Globesity Festival,NYC)
Commissioned specifically as the closing event for the Festival, Strike Anywhere tapped its natural resources to create a super-sized Soundpainting examining America's over-the-top obsession with over-consumption! While the trumpeter ate close to a dozen hamburgers after playing a blistering trumpet solo, actors riffed on a series of satiric diet commercials and talk show parodies in a theater filled with the smell of bacon.

An improvised composition weaving quotes from interviews, poetry and songs by John Lennon into a colorful multi-media mosaic.

Commissioned by the Two River Theatre Company in Red Bank, NJ, this fantastical creation story was specially crafted by the ensemble to honor the town and celebrate the the opening of Two River's new theater. Presented as part of the New Jersey Theater Alliance's statewide event, Family Week.

A soundpainted response to the color-coded climate of fear perpetrated by the Bush Regime in 2004.

Windows and Mirrors
Windows and Mirrors is a residency project book-ended by two performances. The professional show kick-starts the residency by modelling what participants will perform at the culmination of the residency. The Windows and Mirrors performance is a themed storytelling show in which performers share true stories about pivotal moments in their lives. Audiences are offered "windows" into other people's experiences as well as "mirrors" when they see themselves reflected on stage. The performance features live music.

Residencies typically consist of 8-12 workshops and place a professional playwright and/or actor in residence with the group. Residencies are available to middle schools, high schools, colleges and adult-education programs. In school settings, the professional show features teachers from the host school. Teachers undergo a series of professional development workshops to hone their skills as writer/storytellers and then perform alongside Strike Anywhere's professional ensemble.

The residency focuses on the elements of a good story, on classic story structure and on solo performance. The residency can be tailored to address the specific curricular needs of a classroom. Participants will hone writing, editing, listening and performance skills. The residency culminates with everyone performing their story in front of their peers. A curated show is then crafted by the participants highlighting a few of the best stories which are performed in collaboration with Strike Anywhere's professional musicians.

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