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The Ruby is a catalyst for creativity and a new home for making art at Duke University.
Date & Time
Friday, April 5 at 12:00 pm1:00 pm
Free; no RSVP required. Everyone welcome.
Ruby Lounge at the Rubenstein Arts Center
2020 Campus Drive
Durham, NC 27705 United States

Marina Tsaplina is a puppeteer and performing artist based in Brooklyn, NY whose artistic and scholarly work focusses on the lived experience of chronic illness. She is artist lead of Reimagining Medicine, a medical humanities project based at Duke. She was in residence at Duke last summer, working alongside Theater Studies faculty Torry Bend and Jules Odendahl-James to conduct a series of intensive workshops with Duke undergraduates on a pre-health track.

Tsaplina will talk about the unique role of puppetry in her deep engagement with the health humanities. Puppetry’s practices cultivate presence, attention, and imagination—three dimensions that engage future healthcare providers in a practice that holds healing at its core. In the program Tsaplina did with Duke undergraduates, puppetry was the central vehicle for exploring not only creative imagination and storytelling but embodiment itself. Furthermore, puppetry is an effective way to include bodies and stories too often left out of diagnostic narratives—because puppets are a material site of pure imagination, straddling the line between “it” and “you,” they are able to convey the testimony of another without taking it hostage.

Tsaplina, Odendahl-James, and Bend describe their work with Duke students in the article “Attending to the ‘Illusion of Life’: Reimagining Medicine through the Art of Puppetry Practice,” in Puppetry International (PDF). Learn more about Reimagining Medicine in this Duke Today feature story.


About Ruby Fridays

Ruby Fridays are casual art talks offered at noon most Fridays during the semester in the Rubenstein Arts Center’s Ruby Lounge. Speakers include Duke faculty and students who are creating or exhibiting work in the Ruby, visiting artists from far and wide, and local creatives. Learn about the amazing art being created on Duke’s campus, the behind-the-scenes aspect of the creative process, careers in the arts, and more. A free lunch is included!

About the Speaker

Marina Tsaplina is a puppetry artist and scholar working in the field of the medical/health humanities. She is an associate of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities and History of Medicine at Duke University where she serves as artist lead of Reimagining Medicine. She is founder, CEO, and creative director of The Betes Organization, which creates programs in the performing arts to help people with chronic conditions form a flourishing relationship with their health.

As a patient activist who has lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was two years old, Tsaplina is part of the #insulin4all movement for affordable medicines in the United States. Her current interdisciplinary puppetry project is Illness Revelations: The Bodies of Medicine.


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