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The Ruby is a catalyst for creativity and a home for making art at Duke.
Date & Time
April 5, 2019 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 work looks at the unique capacities of puppetry-bodies/objects to reveal embodiment, imagination, and the historic and poetic body in illness, (dis)ability and healing. She is artist lead of Reimagine 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 Reimagine Medicine from the program’s web page or 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 an interdisciplinary performing artist, person with type 1 diabetes since 1988, and Kienle Scholar in the medical/health humanities at the Penn State College of Medicine. Through performance, training, and pedagogy, she works with people with non-apparent and apparent conditions, medical students, healthcare providers, and the public. As artist lead and faculty of Duke’s Reimagine Medicine project, she is developing an embodied pedagogy for health education through puppetry and theater practice.

Tsaplina is an Associate of the Health Humanities Lab at Duke University and the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities and History of Medicine. From 2013 – 2017, she founded and directed THE BETES® Organization. Performing, teaching and speaking nationally and internationally to broad-ranging medical and lay communities helps hone her articulation of the nature of artistic practice, research, and inquiry for social change in medical and community contexts. Illness Revelations and The Bodies of History-Medicine-Us is her latest attempt to meet the medical gaze and its historic violations with the gaze of the imagination.


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