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Performance, Medicine and the Human

Performance, Medicine and the Human

Alex Mermikides


Performance and medicine are now converging in unprecedented ways. Performance, Medicine and the Human surveys this exciting and diverse 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 with the human evident in the practices of both theatre and healing. 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 – 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.

Methuen Drama

Alex Mermikides

Dr Alex Mermikides directs the unique doctoral programmes at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, which has a distinctive focus on research in, through and for the performing arts.


Her own research also bridges scholarship and practice, the latter as a director, dramaturg, and playwright. She has published on contemporary theatre-making (particularly devised and interdisciplinary performance) and the interface between theatre and medicine in the UK. Her edited books include Devising in Process (Palgrave, 2010), Performance and the Medical Body (Methuen Bloomsbury 2016) and Performance, Medicine and the Human (Methuen Bloomsbury 2020).


She runs Chimera, an arts/research network founded in 2012 with an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Through this, she creates performances on medical themes, often working in collaboration with medical specialists and patients. Recent projects include Bloodlines, about patient experience of stem cell transplant, produced at Science Museum London, Antwerp University Hospital, Manchester Science Festival and elsewhere. Her current project Careful, developed with support from the Arts Council, explores themes of compassion, care and empathy through the perspective of nurses. Her work has been featured in The Guardian, Times Higher Educational Supplement and on This Week (BBC Radio 4).

 “I and you” Becomes “I am you”: The Audience’s Gaze in Contemporary Medical Performance

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