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BWW Interview: Luke Walker On Channeling THE WAKE OF DICK JOHNSON


Writer/director Luke Walker’s THE WAKE OF DICK JOHNSON will west coast premiere live onstage at the Hudson Theatres as part of the 2021 Hollywood Fringe Festival August 5

BWW Interview: Luke Walker On Channeling THE WAKE OF DICK JOHNSON

Writer/director Luke Walker's THE WAKE OF DICK JOHNSON will west coast premiere live onstage at the Hudson Theatres as part of the 2021 Hollywood Fringe Festival. DICK JOHNSON begins its eight-performance run August 5, 2021.

Had the chance to delve into Luke's head on his journey to THE WAKE OF DICK JOHNSON.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Luke!

It's a privilege. Thank you!

What was the catalyst for the creation of DICK JOHNSON back in 2015/2016?

The creation story is complicated. Much of the darkness in this piece, and others I've written comes from my own life. The seed for THE WAKE OF DICK JOHNSON might been planted by the sudden and unexpected passing of my cousin in early 2015, but as with much of my work, it was delivered to me during a fever dream. I woke up in a cold sweat one night, drunk and delirious, and the entire story was imprinted in mind from start to finish. I transcribed this vision during the course of the following week, and within two weeks I had a polished script.

What is your three-line pitch for DICK JOHNSON?

Resting in a dreary viewing room of a budget funeral parlor, Johnson's body lay dead in an open casket, lit by flickering candlelight - his limp, lifeless body, dressed in a chickenshit Goodwill suit, and his face hastily painted by an impetuous mortician. DICK JOHNSON's life abruptly came to an end due to a hard life of heavy drinking, drugging, and wanton lechery; but though his time on this planet has expired, his anger lives on. Conjured by rage - so powerful it is palpable in the room - his spirit materializes in his human form to espouse his own eulogy only as he can. It's a warning to all who care to listen, to be wary of how to not live one's life, or be to become victim to an eternity of pain and anguish.

Has your script changed any since your 2016 premiere at Maggie Mae's Pub in Sunnyside Queens?

The script hasn't changed, but the production has evolved over time. I've added to the set and taken away from it- experimented with music, video and light. I've also tweaked the speed and delivery of the dialogue.

The main set piece of DICK JOHNSON is a coffin. Did you have a lot of changes to adapt your play DICK JOHNSON into your 2016 film?

I'm very proud of my set. With each production there has been an upgrade; There's the coffin, two votive stands, flowers and a television, from which DICK JOHNSON communicates with his uncle Willy from an alternate dimension. The movie adaptation was an attempt to leave something behind for posterity, and I filmed the whole thing in my 350-square-foot apartment in Sunnyside, Queens using a VHS camera and my phone. It was done on a budget - but it gives people an idea of what happens in the play.

What cosmic forces brought you and the Hollywood Fringe together for DICK JOHNSON's west coast premiere?

I had taken the show as far as it could go in North Carolina and New York - and this sounded like a good opportunity to get my play in front of new people. I am hoping the Hollywood Fringe Festival brings in its own audience.

Did you intend for DICK JOHNSON to be a perennial Halloween favorite?

I adore Halloween - always have. Even when I'm totally spent on this play, I'd still love to see it a few times a year leading up to Oct 31.

Is there an advisory warning tacked on at the box office? Is this for the faint of heart? Or young in age?

We have posted explicit advisories, but I have decided to tone down the harshest dialogue so that people aren't distracted from the big picture of the play.

Did you love horror films as a kid?

Not until I was a teen, but it's been a favorite genre of mine ever since.

BWW Interview: Luke Walker On Channeling THE WAKE OF DICK JOHNSON Can you recite a line from one of your favorites?

Excellent day for an exorcism, wouldn't you agree, Karras?

You'd like that?


But wouldn't that drive you apart?

It would bring us together.

You and Reagan?

You and us.

Drawer opens spontaneously.

Did you do that?


Do it again.

In time.

Do it again.

In timmmmme.

What did you want to be when you grew up: an actor or a writer? Or a ...?

I wanted to be a priest or an astronaut - the previous has nothing to do with The Exorcist. I was a strange kid.

I see some of your earlier credits list you as "Luke H. Walker." What made you decide now to drop your middle 'H'?

I try to use the middle initial because Luke Walker is a pretty common name!

What's in the near future for Luke Walker?

I've worked very hard for years to get recognition for my writing. I have about forty full-length stage and screenplays that I'd love to see come to life. I hope that the Fringe Festival will draw more attention to my work so that I can keep working on my many other scripts. THE WAKE OF DICK JOHNSON is very important to me, and I would love to do a full run of it. Ultimately, I'd like to see WDJ produced by a company... and who knows, maybe someone else will play DICK JOHNSON so that I can focus on one of my other really cool pieces.

Thank you again, Luke! I look forward to viewing you live in your coffin at the Hudson.

Can't wait to meet you in person, Gil. I plan to stick around after the performance this time to chat. Thank you very much for the opportunity.

For tickets for the live performances of THE WAKE OF DICK JOHNSON through August 25, 2021; log onto

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