AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractThe fate of the tragic Greek figure Iphigenia is intrinsically connected to her environment in classical canonical source texts. Her death, depicted in Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis, is the result of human failings, and yet the natural world and the climate play an integral part. In 2015, Gary Owen transposed the narrative of this classical heroine to Cardiff, Wales, to consider the ruins of contemporary Britain in an increasingly hostile environment of austerity. Owen’s play is a scathing indictment of the overpopulated and under-resourced urban environment, but it is ultimately a catastrophic climate event that leads to the tragedy within this adaptation. Classical tragedy is a predominantly anthropocentric dramatic form. However, with reference to Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott and utilising emerging ecocriticism and discourse, I argue that there is potential for an ecologically sensitive, revisionist perspective in contemporary adaptations of classical tragedy. Building upon Carl Lavery’s and Clare Finburgh’s provocation that, “the Anthropocene is a term that invariably attests to humanity’s inability to impact upon and intervene in natural processes [and] it simultaneously highlights humanity’s failure to harness or control such interventions” (34), I consider what the real tragedy is within Owen’s play. Is the tragedy of his Iphigenia a tragedy of humanity’s failure to cohabit with the natural environment without causing harm or, perhaps more broadly, a tragedy that reflects the failure of a historic and dogmatic anthropocentric view in theatre and beyond?
CitationKerrigan, S. (2022). Gary Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott: The Anthropocene as Tragedy. Critical Stages/Scènes critiques, 26. Retrieved from: https://www.critical-stages.org
JournalCritical Stages/Scènes critiques
DescriptionReprinted with permission from the author. Originally published in Critical Stages/ Scènes critiques (https://www.critical-stages.org Kerrigan, S. Gary Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott: The Anthropocene as Tragedy, 26. 2022.
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