The Corpse Corpses: Non-Professional Performers and Misperformance

Chris Hay


Halfway through post’s production of Oedipus Schmoedipus, performer Mish Grigor drags a dead body across the stage. Mish delicately arranges the body, that of a volunteer performer who has been ‘playing dead’, into a kind of deformed pietà, cradled across the arms and lap of fellow performer Zoë Coombs Marr. Mish is supporting the back of the body’s head, and stroking her arm lovingly. ‘So the greats tell us that when you’re dead’, begins Zoë, before she is cut off by a sharp laugh from the audience.1 She looks down to find that the body in her arms, trembling almost imperceptibly, has begun to smile. She tries again, ‘that when you’re dead’, slapping the body lightly across the face, only to have the body upstage her once more by breaking into a wide grin. Zoë angles her head down and continues her line straight into the body’s ear: ‘it’s just like being asleep. And dreaming’. The body behaves, the laughter dies down, and the show continues.

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