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Journal of Contemporary Drama in English

Editor-in-Chief: Middeke, Martin

Ed. by Berns, Ute / Wallace, Clare / Wald, Christina

2 Issues per year

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Anthropo-Scenes: Theater and Climate Change

Una Chaudhuri
Published Online: 2015-05-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jcde-2015-0002


The scale and complexity of climate change, as well as its often incremental and unspectacular nature, pose formidable obstacles to dramatic representation. Wallace Shawn’s recent play Grasses of a Thousand Colors (2009) subtly distorts the conventions of the thesis play, or drama of ideas, to reveal the habits of mind that are responsible for our species’ steady progress towards ecological disaster. His ‘drama of bad ideas’ is read as a response to what scientists are calling the ‘Anthropocene’ to designate the current era of anthropogenic climate change. The play uses some of Shawn’s abiding themes, especially food and sex, to propose a new understanding of the human, beyond psychological subjecthood and sociopolitical agency: the human is to be reconceived as a geophysical force, with behaviors and practices that produce catastrophic ‘scale effects’ and call for a new species-centric consciousness that will override the ecological myopia of more narrowly-defined group identities such as gender, class or nation.

Keywords: Wallace Shawn; Grasses of a Thousand Colors; Caryl Churchill; Fade Away; Timothy Morton; hyperobject; the anthropocene; ecocriticism; queer ecology; history; thesis play; scale effects; climate change

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Published Online: 2015-05-01

Published in Print: 2015-05-01

Citation Information: Journal of Contemporary Drama in English, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 12–27, ISSN (Online) 2195-0164, ISSN (Print) 2195-0156, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jcde-2015-0002.

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