16 Jul 2020 - 17 Jul 2020 All day Online


Performance and Workshop

It’s hard to judge a life by its body. Maybe it’s a side effect of the job, but I quite like my bodies to have a bit more movement in them.

There have always been parallels between medical performances (the operating theatre) and those undertaken in other theatres; and in both cases a key issue concerns how bodies are staged, laid out, anatomised, mapped and how they materialise. Nowhere is this parallel made clearer than in Rembrandt’s canonical painting De anatomische les van Dr Nicolaes Tulp (1632), and in re-workings associated with it spanning the early nineteenth century to the present day: Arthur Schnitzler’s medical drama Professor Bernhardi (1912), for instance, Christian Petzold’s film Barbara (2012) or Maylis de Kerangal’s novel Mend the Living (2016). Across the last two centuries, such reworkings re-appear across different media, often at points of crisis. 

In the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have adapted Rembrandt’s powerful theatrical setting to the virtual environment now used by so many to interact with each other to produce an on-line series of performances and a workshop. As it takes place within Dr Tulp’s Zoom theatre, this unfolding autopsy will expose the tissues that demarcate the interior and the exterior. The focus shifts, in the process, between the audience and the object of investigation, each gradually becoming more unstable. Four participants at a time will meet digital Tulp in a twelve-minute performance, repeated four times per hour. 

Inspired by the mass shift to online spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic, the co-producers Annja Neuman, Carina Westling and Wendy Bevan-Mogg seek to examine how online interaction ‘de-abjectifies’ the human body (Lemma, 2015), by banishing its messy form and leaked fluids, and how Zoom promotes the illusion of interpersonal transparency and immediate communication.



Thursday, 16 July 2020: 8 Performances scheduled 16:00 – 18:00

Friday, 17 July 2020: 8 Performances scheduled 17:00 – 19:00 

The performance is live-streamed on Zoom. A virtual autopsy examines embodied practices in virtual spaces and their entangled relationships with twenty-first-century politics. You will receive further information about the performance and technical requirements when you register. Please note that the performance will be recorded for educational use. 



Zoom, Thursday 16 July 2020: 18:15 – 19:15 

The workshop on Thursday, 16 July 2020, will explore the topic of virtual embodiment. It provides an opportunity to share reflections and insights on the performance from an informed point of view. A debriefing session and panel discussion aim to bring actors into conversation with co-creators and workshop participants. However, participation in the performance is not required to attend the workshop. The discussion will also be grounded in a text and a series of paintings: ‘The Shape of Agency in Interactive Storyworlds’, a chapter in Carina Westling’s new monograph immersion and participation in punchdrunk’s theatrical worlds (London, New York: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2020) and the series of paintings ‘Annunciation after Titian’ (1972) by Gerhard Richter as well as Rembrandt’s group portrait The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp (1632). 



Email admin@cdh.cam.ac.uk to book tickets for a performance and/or workshop. 


Please state whether you want to attend a performance on Thursday 16 or Friday 17 July. 

Tickets for the performances are limited and will be issued on a first-come-first-served basis. 

You will be assigned to one 25-minute performance within the two-hour performance period. 

Upcoming Events


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk