PaR: Professional Portfolio

IMG_1044Josh Cannon:

I am a performance artist and theatre maker based in Manchester, I trained at Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, and the University of Salford. I am one third of Popbox Theatre – an emerging theatre company based in the north. We try to talk about the world we live in, the language we speak and the stuff we all do whilst making sure we update our Instagram pages. We’re a bit silly and a bit serious:

“popbox are drawing on some well-worn ideas, but they deliver it with a fresh, millennial edge that draws heavily on pop culture and the digital landscape that makes the world so much smaller”The Reviews Hub

You can read more about Popbox here

As a solo artist I make videos and live performance, usually for studio theatres in the UK. My work has also been shown on the internet, in rooms above pubs, in store cupboards, and on the street. Recently my work has focused on our relationship with technology, explores the internet as a ‘place’ for performance, and exploits our ever growing knowledge of the network around us.

I am fascinated by the everyday technology we sometimes forget about – mobile phones, laptops, cameras and screens. My work also aims to bring our virtual behaviours into the physical – have you ever wondered what a facebook ‘like’ looks like in the physical world?

Over the last year I have attempted to stage YouTube vlogging in the theatre, worked with a computer scientist to see what happens when we let a computer write a script for us, cast an online chatbot as Ophelia in Hamlet, and explored the harsh reality of a self-confessed internet superstar.

I create work which is devised, experimental and usually with a sense of humour.

See below for more information on my latest work


TheHamletVlogs (2018) was the result of a 12 week Practice-As-Research Project undertaken at The University of Salford. It was shown as part of Arrival Festival in the Digital Performance Lab at MediaCity UK.

TheHamletVlogs started as a video project, aimed at teaching High School students about Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Initial outputs looked similar to the video below:

As the project developed, I started experimenting by using the ‘vlogging’ style of delivery in a rehearsal studio and started developing a live show . Inspired by the likes of The Wooster Group and Ryan Trecartin, the performance sees Hamlet deliver his famous ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy through several different vlogging formats.


This project started to explore how digital vlogging techniques can be taken from the medium of video and into the physical realm of performance.

In a similar fashion to YouTube, audiences are invited to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ the vlogs. Just like the days of Elizabethan Theatre, more dislikes, results in the performer getting covered in tomatoes, illustrating the physical translation of the ‘dislike’ button



TheHamletVlogs questions the relevance and position of Hamlet in today’s culture of binge watching, serial viewing and viral videos.


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With a Chatbot Ophelia at his side, Hamlet attempts to fit his soliloquy into the fast-paced, unpredictable world of YouTube.


Photos Credits to Fraser Oxlee



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Inspired by the Instagram famous, YouTube vlogging celebrities of the 21st century, SUBSCRIBE (2018) invites the audience to join a workshop which they never signed up for. SUBSCRIBE was performed at The New Adelphi Studio Theatre, as part of DYP: Minifest 2018. The performance sees a larger-than-life personality, a mashup of YouTube’s most arrogant stars, teach the audience how to become popular at YouTube in a 25 minute masterclass.


The inspiration for this character can been seen in this video, which was shown to the audience, and deconstructed in the performance:

Half way through the masterclass the performer seems to break down and question the falsified, facile nature of his own work.

This performance was about questioning what we take for granted online and allows the audience to ask themselves whether they should believe everything they see on YouTube.

As the performance progresses it transpires that not everything being shown is entirely honest, and even the performer’s breakdown was filmed and uploaded to YouTube – leaving us wondering whether this was genuine or staged?


For more information on Subscribe click here to be redirected to my previous post on process documentation (Disclaimer: this link is for information only and is not intended submission of the PaR project, as it has previously been assessed)




The Markov Chain (2018) is a research and development project undertaken in collaboration with Kobi Hartley – a computer science student at Lancaster University. The aim here is to explore how useful computer programming could be in performance. Our initial meetings involved many questions, and often resulted in mind maps like the one below:

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The result so far is a computer program which writes a script, or rather creates a script, based on an algorithm called a Markov Chain. The program requires an input text, it reads the rules and practices of the input text and then creates a new text – which is often bizarre, sometimes humorous and sometimes frightening. Below is an extract from The Markov Chain – our input text was three political speeches from different world leaders (Trump, Merkel and May) regarding global warming.
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Kobi and I will continue to work on the project, with the hope of a final performance created entirely using the Markov Chain – aimed at science and technology festivals. A video from our rehearsals can be found below:

I also invite you to create your own scripts using our prototype Markov Chain – click here to have a go yourself.