Demarcating dementia on the contemporary stage

Authored by: Morgan Batch

The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture, and Media

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9780815368410
eBook ISBN: 9781351254687
Adobe ISBN:


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Statistics consistently report that dementia is on the rise (Innes 2009; Johnstone 2013; Lock 2013; Zeilig 2014). It is fast becoming a shared issue globally. This rise drives a social anxiety about dementia and ageing and also indicates the need for scholarship about dementia in multiple sectors. Despite a wealth of literature about dementia in various areas, the examination of dementia as it appears in contemporary theatre performance is underdeveloped. In this chapter, I consider this gap, introduce several emerging trends in this area, and demonstrate that the narrativisation of dementia tends towards a demarcation of the person with dementia from other subjects in the work. I first argue for positioning dementia adjacent to current disability studies and describe how the medical narrative of dementia has driven the stigma against people with dementia. I note trends of representation of the condition in media and arts and demonstrate how the current focus on dementia and the arts is rooted in therapy. I then give an overview of the current landscape of dementia in contemporary performance and centre on how the demarcation between people with dementia and people without manifests in several performances.

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