Orange Theatre, Band puts the finishing touches on theaters | Culture & Leisure

Orange High School Theater and Orchestral Programs, in association with Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble, has announced upcoming performances of “Pop Up: Hillsborough, An Artistic Adventure.” During May 6 and 7, audiences will experience site-specific performances via clues on a hand-painted map of Hillsborough. Inspired by interviews with local Hillsborough residents, Pop Up will be presented in public spaces scattered around the inspirational neighborhood. The starting location of each performance is secret and registered audience members will be notified the day before the performance.

Developed over the past four years, Pop Up is designed to spark community connections, highlight the extraordinary in the ordinary and change perceptions. Pop Up is art in everyday places. Performances will appear in the streets, windows, parks and squares of the neighborhood – short appearances of music, dance, theater and visual art inject a series of performances that are alternately playful, poetic or poignant. In developing the play, students conducted interviews with Hillsborough residents who were asked to share memories, dreams, rumours, anecdotes, stories and impressions.

“I started talking with our group director at the time about ways our programs could work together,” said Blake Wilson, drama teacher at Orange High School. “I thought it would be important for music and theater students to work together. I knew about this group Strike Anywhere because I had worked with them in the past, and I’m interested as a theater teacher in exploring site-specific performances or performances that take place outside of a theater location traditional. Strike Anywhere specializes in this and they also specialize in this technique called “sound painting”, which is basically a form of live composition. There is a conductor who uses a series of gesture signs to communicate with the performers in real time. It would include musicians and also actors, so it’s a great kind of experience for the band and the theater students to develop their improvisational skills, but also to perform in a less traditional way. The group director and I thought it would be a great way for them to develop those skills and also collaborate. It has been in the works for about a year or so.

The sound painter guides the group of artists (actors, dancers and musicians) with a series of hand and body gestures that the performers interpret to improvise in the moment. Sign language is made up of over 1,500 gestures, resulting in the creation of compositions in real time, with the composer responding to the performers to indicate what happens next.

It’s a different experience for theater students, and they’re excited to get involved and have the chance to perform.

“It’s a unique form of performance,” Wilson continued. “It has been an interesting and unique learning process for them. I think it’s starting to take shape for them, and we have guest artists here this week working with us before the show. I think you can see a lot of their ideas popping up on the show.

Much of the material used for the performances came from interviews the students had with members of the community.

As one would expect for such an unusual method of performance, the rehearsal also took on a different twist.

“This week we’re rehearsing outdoors in the different locations,” Wilson said. “Before that, we rehearsed on campus, in the classroom, worked on gear and all that. Thus, the performance itself will be a combination of prepared pieces that the students have written and developed. Then there will be an element of improvisation because again we use this sound painting technique.

The Orange High School Wind Ensemble will perform with the senior theater class, as well as a few technical theater students who will help out. In total, about fifty students will take part in the productions.

“We like to say it’s about affirming the importance of poetry in everyday life,” said Leese Walker, artistic director of Strike Anywhere. “People today are isolated, catatonic, angry and scared. Our approach inspires connection through joy, wonder and fantasy. Meeting a string trio at the bus stop, witnessing a clown in a pile of clothes at the laundromat, dragging local residents into our “pop-up choir” – those kinds of moments celebrate our common humanity.

Tickets are $10.


Pop Up: Hillsborough, an artistic adventure will take place on May 6 and 7. Performances last approximately 105 minutes.

Friday, May 6 at 6 p.m.

Saturday May 7 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.


The starting point of the clues adventure is secret and will be sent the day before to registered spectators. Performances are held at 5-6 locations in downtown Hillsborough. The public is advised to wear comfortable walking shoes. Register at


Co-Director/Artistic Director SA: Leese Walker

OHS Theater Professor/Co-Director/Producer: Blake Wilson

OHS Group Director: Jacqueline Johnson

Music Director AG: Rolf Sturm

Cartographer: Lisa Renee Jordan

Director: JM Rossi

Education and Partnerships: Amanda Hinkle Wallace

Production Manager/SA General Manager: Kaitlyn Samuel Rosin


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