Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Robin Bates
Professor Allison Wilkins
Dr. Beth Savage
Unlike most apocalyptic stories, Thomas Eccleshare’s play, Pastoral, flips the genre on its head with its original take on what could come of the relationship between humans and nature. Throughout the course of the play, readers follow along as an elderly woman, Moll, and her companions attempt to make sense of their new ecologically lavish environment. Rather than humankind dominating nature, Eccleshare posits the question of what could happen if nature dominated over man. Pastoral is a play in which the countryside has become intrepidly abundant; however, rather than providing for humankind, nature attacks it. Set near a shopping center an hour away from London, the play takes us into a fictional reality, making readers and viewers alike wonder if the relationship between humans and nature really is stable. Contemporary fiction, drama, and poetry often contain apocalyptic themes as writers and readers struggle with the concept of the world ending or changing drastically in some form. It often takes a “human versus nature” form. Among the numerous works of apocalyptic and dystopian literature showing a world ravaged by humankind’s harsh hand lies Eccleshare’s first play. This play is unlike other contemporary pieces of literature in that it reverses the “human versus nature” binary. By doing this, Eccleshare presents the consequence to the destruction humans have committed. In Pastoral, nature, not humans, is responsible for the destruction. The play is intriguing to watch as well as read, and since it was first performed only this year1, scholarship has yet to explore this unique take on the relationship between nature and humankind. In this paper, I will explore Pastoral using ecocriticism, gender theory, and performance theory to determine how nature is viewed by the characters in the play as well as how they react to nature’s furious destruction. The three theories intersect in the play by bringing to light the ways in which the characters struggle with making sense of the destruction as well as how the ecocrisis affects each character’s societal role. Ecocriticism, gender theory, and performance theory can all be applied to Pastoral because evidence can be found within the text. I will draw from scholarship on post-apocalyptic literature and theatre reviews to offer some insights to this play’s contribution to the genre.
Vitello, Leah, "“EVERYTHING TEEMING WITH LIFE”: A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THOMAS ECCLESHARE’S PASTORAL" (2014). Undergraduate Theses and Capstone Projects. 139.