Goat Island

Chicago-based collaborative performance group

Goat Island was a Chicago-based collaborative performance group, 1987–2009. The company produced performance works developed by its members for local, national and international audiences. 

Members contributed to the conception, research, writing, choreography, documentation and educational demands of the work. Characteristically, rather than the usual proscenium theater situation, we attempted to establish a spatial relationship with audiences suggesting a concept, such as sporting arena or parade ground, or creating a setting for which there is no everyday comparison. We performed a personal vocabulary of movement, both dance-like and pedestrian, that often made extreme physical demands on the performers, and attention demands on the audience. We incorporated historical and contemporary issues through text and movement. We created visual/spatial images to encapsulate thematic concerns. We placed our performances in non-theatrical sites when possible. We researched and wrote collaborative lectures for public events, and often subsequently published these, either in our own artists’ books or in professional journals.

Core members were Karen Christopher, Matthew Goulish, Lin Hixson, Mark Jeffery, Bryan Saner, and Litó Walkey. Associate members were Cynthia Ashby, Lucy Cash, CJ Mitchell, Judd Morrissey, Margaret Nelson, John Rich, Charissa Tolentino and Chantal Zakari.

Karen Christopher was a core member of Goat Island from 1990 to 2009. More information about Goat Island’s performances, films, teaching, writing and publications can be found at here.

Performance History 

Goat Island completed nine works: Soldier, Child, Tortured Man (1987); We Got A Date (1989); Can’t Take Johnny to the Funeral (1991); It’s Shifting, Hank (1993); How Dear to Me the Hour When Daylight Dies (1996); The Sea & Poison (1998); It’s an Earthquake in My Heart (2001); When will the September roses bloom? Last night was only a comedy (2004); and The Lastmaker (2007). The company toured the US and to England, Scotland, Wales, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Germany, and Canada.



Goat Island Makes Earthquake, video diary by Karen Christopher

Cake dance from It’s an Earthquake in my Heart, Goat Island, 2001, Arnolfini, Bristol

Excerpt from It’s Aching like Birds, film by Lucy Cash & Goat Island

Excerpt from The Sea & Poison, Goat Island, Chicago, 1998

Excerpts from The Sea & Poison, Goat Island, 1998, video by Left & Right, Glasgow

Excerpts from The Lastmaker, Goat Island, 2007, MCA Chicago, video by Nadia Oussenko