The hard-edged comedy Professor Bernhardi, by the great Austrian Modernist writer, Arthur Schnitzler, will be staged in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre on the University’s Downing site.
It is a play about doctors talking to doctors, raising questions about the politics and ethics of medical care. The innovative choreographic work of the London-based theatre ensemble [Foreign Affairs] explores how the medical drama occupies and moves through institutional space. And the anatomical teaching space provides an ideal location for this exploration. The habitual stillness of the space is rendered dynamic by the dramatic production, but always with a sense of institutional containment.
The play tells the story of a Jewish doctor who prevents a Catholic priest giving the last rites to a patient who is unaware that she is dying, and the social and political scandal that ensues. A new adaptation takes an at once wry and serious look at the ethical choices that have to be made in hospitals and are as relevant now as they were in Schnitzler’s time.
The venue of the Anatomy Lecture Theatre at the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at Downing Site, Cambridge, has particular meaning for the drama. Anatomical theatres, like dramatic theatres, are places to see and to acquire knowledge. The topography of the anatomy theatre elevates the observer to a position that looks at the open body from above, almost with a birds-eye perspective. The main objective of such spaces is to get as many eyes as close to the body as possible. And just as the anatomy theatre makes visible the anatomy and physiology of the human body, so Professor Bernhardi enacts this logic of turning inside-out, laying bare the inner workings of a hospital and of the society in which it is embedded.
Doors will open at 6pm. A 30-minute pre-show talk by literary scholar Annja Neumann and clinical anatomist Cecilia Brassett will introduce the venue, the current anatomy teaching programme, and the production.
The Saturday performance is part of the Festival of Ideas 2016. For more information please visit: http://www.festivalofideas.cam.ac.uk
The production is a collaboration between [Foreign Affairs] and academics from the Schnitzler Digital Edition Project, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The adaptation was first staged in London’s Barts Pathology Museum in September 2016. Performances in Cambridge are co-organized with the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience.