Calling Experimental Performers

Can’t Take Johnny To The Funeral

Closing Date EXTENDED TO 5pm Friday 24 January Wednesday 23 January 

We are looking for three performers to take part in an experimental research and development workshop in collaboration with Hyde Park Arts Center in response to Goat Island’s production of ‘Can’t Take Johnny To The Funeral’. This will develop into a performance at The Chicago Cultural Center during April 2019.

We are looking for performers who:

·     Have experience in experimental, open-ended and collaborative working practices

·     Relish the challenge of performing difficult text and choreography (but not necessarily trained actors or dancers)

·     Have a capacity to create material independently and work with archival footage to recreate performance

·     Have physical stamina enabling them to participate in exhausting movement sequences

Open to all performers / actors / dancers regardless of age (over 21), sex, gender, cultural background or disability. Children and dependents welcome in rehearsals.

Performers will be available for:

1.    R&D Workshop – Hyde Park Arts Center – (mixture of weekdays and evenings) from ​Mon 4 Feb – Friday 22 Feb 2019 with work-in-progress performance on Thursday 21 Feb evening (TBC).

2.    Rehearsals 8-18 April 2019 Chicago Cultural Center

3.    Performances 19, 20, 21 April 2019 Chicago Cultural Center

If you are interested in participating but have conflicts with other commitments please get in touch (see below).

We are interested in performers that reflect the diversity of Chicago and who are, ideally, based in Chicago. Performers will be 21 years or older.

This is an unpaid project. Expenses will be covered for the R&D period and an honorarium will be paid for the rehearsal and performance period.

Further Information

This project has been designed to enable experimental performance makers to connect through a creative response to Goat Island’s 1991 performance ‘Can’t Take Johnny To The Funeral’. Johnny takes place within the wider ‘Goat Island Archive: we have discovered the performance by making it’ exhibition taking place at Chicago Cultural Centre in the first half of 2019. Australian director Robert Walton has been invited by the City of Chicago to make a work in response to Johnny and he will lead the research and development workshop and direct the performance. This project is part of the Year of Chicago Theater.

About Robert Walton

Robert has directed over 30 original productions and shown his work across Europe and Australia. His work spans theatre and site-responsive performance, media art and public art. He is also a well respected master teacher and has led performance and theatre departments at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Victorian College of Arts, University of Melbourne. This will be the first project Robert has directed in the USA. During the In<Time 2019 festival Robert will be artist in residence at Hyde Park Art Center where he will work with the collaborators on Johnny. This is the second Goat Island performance Robert has responded to. In 2014 Robert directed the response to It’s An Earthquake in my Heart in Melbourne, Australia, details here:

Parameters of Creative Response

The research and development workshop will alternate between recreating aspects of the 1991 original performance, specifically the movement sequences, with the development of new material through a creative response process. Each collaborator will be invited to respond to the original themes of the 1991 work: ‘bliss and terror in the modern world’ and ‘the destruction of innocence and the possibility of redemption’. The title ‘Can’t take Johnny to the funeral’ is a quote from Twin Peaks, which also had a sequel of sorts 25 years after the original. Returning to this source gives a way to imagine Goat Island’s performance in 1991 from the ‘modern world’ now. We are making a sequel, the lodge has reopened, we are returning through grainy video to a moment which unbeknownst then, draws us together in the present. Each collaborator will be invited to return to 1991 in their own lives, scouring family photos and videos in order to revisit the innocence of an earlier time. Such a return is our place to start. We will discover the rest of the performance by making it together.

In practical terms performers will spend at least two hours per day working together on the recreation of movement sequences which are in themselves exhausting and complex. Each day will also include developing, presenting and responding to new material created by the individuals and the group. Group exercises and improvisations will be led by Robert and the collaborators each day. We will also visit the Goat Island archive which contains artefacts from the original production, notebooks, video, photographs, reviews and ephemera from the original production and use these as a stimulus.

There will be a work-in-progress performance of Johnny at Hyde Park Arts Center at the end of the R&D process.


After the research and development workshop Robert will return to Melbourne. During this time online discussions about what has been achieved will take place. Performers will maintain and continue working on movement sequences independently as required.

Rehearsal and Performance Period

In April the group will reform for rehearsals and to premiere the performance at Chicago Cultural Center on 19, 20 & 21 April 2019. During this period, and once the show is up, we will record a version of the performance to camera to make a short film of the project.


Expressions of Interest

If you are interested in participating in this project as a performer please complete the short expression of interest form here:

Closing Date 5pm Friday 24 January.

We recommend preparing your answers in a word document and pasting them into the form when you are ready. The questions are:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Who are you? Please briefly introduce yourself (300 words)
  • What is your arts practise? Briefly introduce your work (300 words)
  • Why would you like to participate in this project? Briefly outline your interest (300 words)
  • On what days are you available? (multiple choice)
  • And which times are you available? (multiple choice)
  • Anything else? Please tell us anything else we may need to know about working with you. For example, do you have access requirements? (Optional)



Further information about the project is available here.

Please address questions to Ryan Galbraith: producer [at]

Please note that Melbourne is 17 hours ahead of Chicago, so some delays in communication are likely.