The period during and following World War I in Germany reconceptualized the physical function of bodies to emphasize activity over structure, as visible in the prosthetic appendages worn by amputees returning from war to be reintegrated into society. Such manipulation of the human form is critical to the dramaturgy of the drama and dance works explored here, which deconstructed bodies in order to reconstitute the identity of the performers. This article moves from the engineering of social function in Bertolt Brecht's A Man's a Man, in which a narrative of altered personality is primarily reflected in the dialogue's metaphors of physical damage and reconstitution, to a progressive reliance on the body as a medium of dramaturgy in the manipulation of physical identity in Oskar Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet and Kurt Jooss' The Green Table. By considering the shift in medical approaches to prosthesis and the treatment of onstage bodies to reflect the same changing values from multiple vantage points, the culturally and historically specific medium of the body thus offers an opportunity to think of not only medicine and performance together, but also drama and dance in their engagement with the contemporary body.


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pp. 389-410
Launched on MUSE
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