Mid-Week Intermission Artist Edition: Annie & Andrew of Point A

Who doesn’t love it when things just ✨ line up? ✨ Like running into a long lost friend, or a song you just talked about comes on the radio, or even… the cosmos aligning perfectly for a total solar eclipse right where you are. In this Mid-Week Intermission, we linked up with Annie Saunders and Andrew Schneider, the two artists of Point A who have created a one-of-a-kind, site-specific soundwalk for Austin to celebrate exactly this, when the heres and nows meet. Read on to learn more about ECLIPSING.

This is Annie & Andrew, on location

Long Center: First off, since we’re here to talk about your upcoming soundwalk (more on that later) — could you suggest some music or ambient sounds people should put on while they read this interview, just for fun?

Annie Saunders (ANNIE) & Andrew Schneider (AJS): We’ll make it simple! Here’s a playlist we’ve made just for them.

LC: How did you find each other and what’s the story behind Point A?

AJS: I was building an interactive typewriter to control a lighting sculpture for a theater show in LA. Annie was acting in the show. I flew to LA to show the cast how to use the typewriter and Annie and I collaborated on the best way to use the typewriter as an instrument. Later I actually ended up being in that show.

Years passed. Annie hired me as a lighting designer on a show that she made in the Oculus in NYC, which was a full-sized house in the middle of this massive transit hub. Annie made this incredible show illuminating domestic abuse through financial control complete with interviews of survivors. You’d go through the house one at a time and hear all these stories and see snippets from their lives. Afterwards there were therapists and abuse support folks you could talk to. I did the interactive lighting design for it. It was really the first time I thought, “oh, interactive/immersive theater has really an incredible power.” 

I invited Annie to come speak at a class I was teaching in NYC at this techno-centric grad school called The Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. It was all about paying closer attention to your own reality — really listening to the world around you — in order to be better at storytelling when making art, especially new media. I realized we shared a lot of the same ideas about theater-making — basically, that it’s not something that happens “over there.” It’s something that can be all around you if you frame it in a certain way.

Then Annie got a commission to make a soundwalk in NYC during the pandemic. She called me up and I said yes, we decided to start making place-reactive media and performance together in addition to our own other work. We premiered that piece (CURRENT) in 2021, then premiered KORMOS in Athens, Greece, in 2022, and now we’re here in Austin!

LC: Speaking of being in Austin, tell us about ECLIPSING — what’s the inspiration behind this work?

ANNIE: The work is inspired by the total solar eclipse, which will be visible from Austin in April 2024 — the moon will cover the sun resulting in about 2 minutes of darkness in the middle of the day. It makes us think about alignment, simultaneity, synchronicity, connectedness, the cosmos, and how invisible forces are at work in our world all the time, literally and figuratively.

AJS: Eclipses are all about being in the right place at the right time. And all of Austin is going to be in the right place at the right time. The whole community will have access to this incredible celestial event. But we can also scale this down and see how it is at play in our daily lives. The cosmic timings of our trips to the grocery store — how we met the people we fell in love with — and the things that almost happened but never did — every decision or non-decision contributes to our now and our collective now — which I think is cool.

Annie & Andrew recording for the soundwalk

LC:  What drew you to soundwalks as an artform?

ANNIE: These projects for me tap into the essential qualities of liveness — being in the right place at the right time for something magical to occur for just that audience in that moment, never exactly the same way twice. I also hope that it brings people into relationship with the city in a new, personal, physical, imaginative, and memorable way.

AJS: I was really skeptical at first. I really don’t like the audience having to put anything artificial on, especially in the theater. But so many people wear headphones outside all the time — soundtrack their own lives in a way — that I thought, “oh, this is perfect actually. Let’s tap into what those folks are already doing and amp it up a little.”

LC: What’s been the most exciting part about creating this site-specific work for Austin?

ANNIE: The community here in Austin has been amazing and this area is so special to so many people. It’s been an honor to create work in response to it.

AJS: Any time I describe the project to anyone, it’s met with genuine curiosity and usually an interest to know more. The collaborators we are able to work with on the ground here are the most genuine, generous, and talented team we’ve worked with on these projects. The scene here in Austin to me is like NYC but way more welcoming and way less ego-driven. Also, Slacker.

LC: What makes Austin different than some of your other soundwalk locations?

ANNIE: There’s nowhere on earth quite like Austin 🙂 

AJS: Each place is completely unique. We spend months in these places to try to get a sense of what it’s like to be a human being in a public place. We don’t come with a story we already want to tell, we come with listening as the highest priority.

LC: Any advice on how folks can best enjoy ECLIPSING?

ANNIE: Bring your phone (charged) and your best headphones. Pack light, wear comfortable shoes, bring water.

AJS: Other than that, there’s no wrong way. I’d try to be open — to listen to what’s around me — to try to see things as if I don’t already know what they are.

LC: How can folks follow you and keep up with your other projects?

Andrew is over at andrewjs.com and @helloandrewjs on socials (be on the lookout for another show headed to Austin in 2025!).

Annie is at anniesaunders.work or @annie.saunders_ on Instagram. Next up is ‘Our Country’ at On the Boards in Seattle later in March.

ECLIPSING  //  MAR 9 – 12

Learn more about this free site-specific soundwalk, where it starts, how to acces, and more. Check our FAQ for details.

If RSVPs are full, check back often as more time slots get added or open up.

ECLIPSING was recorded both on location and at Preacher Studios, and produced in collaboration with Squeak E. Clean Studios.

Interested in other eclipse-related programming?

This project was made possbile by the Simons Foundation and is part of its ‘In the Path of Totality’ initiative.

As part of that initiative, Austin is celebrating with 3 days of events including a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party right here at the Long Center and more events happening with Waterloo Greenway and Fusebox. Can’t wait to party like it’s 1397!

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