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Journal Articles Journal of contemporary drama in English Year : 2022

Encounters in the Chthulucene: Simon McBurney’s Theatre of Compost


Looking at Simon McBurney’s award-winning solo performance The Encounter (2015), this paper examines the play’s contribution to environmental humanities through an ecocritical study of its combined use of state-of-the-art sound design and the age-old art of storytelling to address the link between the ecological and spiritual crises that we are facing. The Encounter relates the real story of the American photographer Loren McIntyre who lived with the Mayoruna tribe for six weeks in 1969 after getting lost in the Amazon rainforest. Relying heavily on sound design to take us deep into the jungle, the show addresses our relation to nature and technology and elicits our empathy to denounce the dictates of a globalised world ruled and threatened by neoliberal and neocolonial capitalistic ideologies. As the brain – and the stage – become the forest, The Encounter challenges the notions of distance and separation from the Other in favour of a deep sense of interconnectedness. Using Donna J. Haraway’s 2016 book, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, this article sheds light on how The Encounter invites us to recognise the urgency of defining what it means to live together in “response-ability on a damaged earth” (Haraway) and how the intermedial, hybrid qualities of the play found not a “post-human” but, on the contrary, a “com-post” theatre piece.
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hal-03933135 , version 1 (10-01-2023)



Solange Ayache. Encounters in the Chthulucene: Simon McBurney’s Theatre of Compost. Journal of contemporary drama in English, 2022, 10 (1), Special Issue: Critical Theatre Ecologies, 99-115. ⟨10.1515/jcde-2022-0007⟩. ⟨hal-03933135⟩
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