The Incorporeal Corpse: Performing Disability in the Liminal Stage

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In this book, Jason B. Dorwart contends that the material presence of visible disability disrupts the framing devices that provide safe distancing for theatre’s fictive nature. Conceptions of disability that place the disabled body into a permanently liminal space between life and death are directly at odds with theatrical performances, which are geared toward moving through liminality into a new point of stasis. Dorwart reveals how this contradiction leads to performance practices that work to marginalize and eliminate the presence of disabled bodies of both character and actor, as disabled characters have historically been written with different character arcs than nondisabled characters and with the assumption that they would be played by nondisabled actors. As more disabled actors gain exposure in film and theatre, the difference in
how disabled characters are written is also increasingly affected by whether the role is intended for a disabled or nondisabled actor. These performances are enacting new means to performatively and figuratively reincorporate or eliminate the liminal disabled body. The Incorporeal Corpse demonstrates how recent plays and films try to rectify this tension between the permanence of disability and the transitory nature of performance. Scholars of theatre, disability studies, and performance studies will find this book of particular interest.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherLexington Books
Number of pages160
ISBN (Print)9781793645074, 9781793645081
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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