Performance, Medicine and the Human

Performance, Medicine and the Human

by Alex Mermikides

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Performance and medicine are now converging in unprecedented ways. London's theatres reveal an appetite for medical themes – John Boyega is subjected to medical experiments in Jack Thorne's Woycek, while Royal National Theatre produces a novel musical about cancer. At the same time, performance-makers seek to improve our health, using dance to increase mobility for those living with Parkinson's disease or performance magic as physiotherapy for children with paraplegia. Performance, Medicine and the Human surveys this emerging field, providing case studies based on the author's own experience of devising medical performances in collaboration with cancer patients, biomedical scientists and healthcare educators.

Examining contemporary medical performance reveals an ancient preoccupation, evident in the practices of both theatre and healing, with the human. Like medicine, theatre puts the human on display in order to understand and, perhaps, alleviate the suffering inherent to the human condition. Medical practice constitutes a sort of theatre in which doctors, nurses and patients perform their humaneness and humanity. This insight has much to offer at a time when established notions of the human are being radically rethought, partly in response to emerging biomedical knowledge. Performance, Medicine and the Human argues that contemporary medical performance can shed new light on what it means to be human – and what we mean by the human, the humane, humanism and the humanities – at a time when these notions are being fundamentally rethought. Its insights are relevant to scholars in performance studies, the medical humanities, healthcare education and beyond.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781350022164
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 02/20/2020
Series: Performance and Science: Interdisciplinary Dialogues
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Alex Mermikides is Doctoral Programme Leader at Guildhall School of Music&Drama, London, UK. Her research interest is in contemporary performance-making, particularly in relation to interdisciplinary and medical performances. Previous publications include Devising in Process (with Jackie Smart) and Performance and the Medical Body with Gianna Bouchard (Methuen Drama, 2016).
Dr Alex Mermikides is Doctoral Programme Leader at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her research interest is in contemporary performance-making and she is co-editor of Devising in Process (2010).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Professor Alan Bleakely

1. Introduction: performance, medicine and the human
2. Gazes and stages: looking at bodies in theatre and medicine
3. Playing doctors: the 'humanistic physician' breaks bad news
4. Chimeric Bodies: other selves in pathographic performance
Taking care: cultivating compassion in nursing and applied performance
5. Conclusion: performing encounters and entanglements


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