"I know exactly what you mean....it always amazed me how you would be driving down the wrong side of the road and see a car coming directly at you and then magically somehow, all traffic just kind of bends just enough so that everyone makes it…"
"Hi Joan! Your name came up tonight at the Irondale Benefit. I was talking to Steve Cross who mentioned that the first time he met you was at the NET gathering at Winnebago. It was then that he learned about Dell Arte. HOpe you are well and loving…"
Improvisation, Interdisciplinary Performance and Shakespeare
About Me And My Work
Leese Walker is the Artistic/Producing Director of the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble in NYC. She founded the theatre in 1997 to promote empathy, free-thinking and greater social awareness through provocative theatre and educational outreach. The permanent ensemble is comprised of world-class musicians, dancers, visual artists and actors. Performers collaborate through an ensemble-based, improvisational process to create politically-charged, original works that address socially relevant issues. In 2004, Leese represented Strike Anywhere in Bali, Indonesia. Leese was awarded the prestigious APPEX (Asia Pacific Performer Exchange) fellowship which allowed her to join 16 artists from around the world in a 6 week artistic exchange in Ubud, Bali. Leese is a Dartmouth grad who began her professional career as a member of the Irondale Ensemble, NYC. She was profoundly influenced by the improvisational methods and ensemble-based approach to developing material at Irondale. While with Irondale, she played Antigone in Antigone, Didi in Waiting For Godot, and St. Juste in Danton’s Death. Leese has worked with master puppeteer Ralph Lee as a member of the Mettawee Theater Company and she performed extensively with the Judith Shakespeare Company playing roles as varied as Richard II, Cressida, Dromio of Ephesus and Helena. She has danced, acted and played Lakota flute with the Wendy Osserman Dance Company (Dance Theater Workshop, UBU Rep, Union Square Park), and has been soundpainting as a core improvising actor with the Walter Thompson Orchestra since 1997, (Lincoln Center, NYC Jazz Vision Festival, HERE, Bard College, Knitting Factory). As a co-director/performer, Leese has collaborated with Ariel Dance Theatre in Austin, Texas, Oregon’s Sojourn Theatre and on numerous projects with NACL Theatre including 10 Brecht Poems, her critically-acclaimed 2 woman show which has toured to over 40 venues nationally and has been featured on numerous radio and television programs. In addition to all of her performance and directing work, Leese freelances as a teaching-artist with over half a dozen NYC theatre companies including: the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Roundabout Theatre Company. She offers master classes in ensemble technique, Soundpainting, inter-disciplinary improvisation and teaching-artist training at theatres and universities nationwide. Leese also served on the board of directors for the Network of Ensemble Theatres from 2003-2008.
Artistic Experiences I Have Had On My Travels
Was part of the APPEX program in Bali, Indonesia in 2004 with 15 other artists for 6 weeks where we traded ideas, techniques and stories. It was idyllic thanks to Judy Mitoma who designed the fabulous program.
Art Forms And Cultures I Would Like To Engage With
One of my dream artistic experiences is to return to a project that I began in Bali with Emiko Susilo(singer/dancer - Bali), Anurupa Roy (puppeteer-India), Slamet Gundono (puppeteer - Java) and Gretchen Van Lente (puppeteer - USA). It used the story of Ghatotkacha from the Mahābhārata and wove it together with a story taken from my mother's life in a Japanese Internment camp during WWII in Indonesia. We had been invited to develop the work in an artist retreat in the Himalayas in India but were unable to raise the funds to produce the project. I hope to return to it someday in the not too distant future.
My Creative Influences & Favorite Artists
Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker, Theatre de Complicite, Keith Jarrett, John Coltrane, Peter Brook, Salvador Dali, Big Mama Thornton, Pete Seeger, Fiona Shaw, John Kani & Winston Ntshona, Ian McKellen, Led Zeppelin.
My Artistic Affiliations
Network of Ensemble Theaters, The Brecht Forum, Irondale Center.
are you coming west anytime soon ? i need a big ole infusion!!! as for my desire to be in a piece of yours, you know that comes out of my committment to get outside my comfort zone this year. there is nothing more terrifying to me than the idea of being on stage...
Hi Leese. It is very nice to see you here too. I think it is very good place to meet :). Yes it was fan chating with you. Lets keep in touch and ofcourse we will talk about jazz festival and maybe you will be one of guests in our theatre.
also looking forward to the 27th!! it always feels great to get into a room together and hash things out. i have been able to rest a bit and get myself organized which has been nice.
speaking of NICE - who did the masks and puppets in a bunch of your photos? they are incredible
The one and only LAW-- or is it Didi? Everyone except Slamet from the Ghatotkacha project are here on Create Culture too! Thanks for posting such a beatiful profile and such wonderful photos. Hope you let others know more about soundpaiting and of course post your workshops. Are you over on this side anytime soon?