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Cornell University's "Once Upon a Time in... the Anthropocene"

By Cymbeline Anthropocene on Jun 10, 2021 at 07:31 PM in Cymbeline and the World
This week’s blog features some brilliantly inventive engagement with our project website by Cornell University students. Under the course leadership of Professor Theo Black, Cornell’s PMA 3801 acting ensemble, joined by two additional guest artists, have created a rollicking and beautifully provocative postmodern adaptation entitled “Once Upon a Time in … The Anthropocene.”


Beginning with a poster parodying the similarly-named Tarantino film, this video of remotely acted scenes mixes play-text, poetic and prose paratexts, original and recycled film and music-video images, nature footage, a multi-genre soundscape, and (hilariously retro) tv commercials for healthy cereals to present a "rich and strange" retelling of Cymbeline.

Short Film: Once Upon a Time in... the Anthropocene
From their seriously playful mash-up emerges an ecofeminist critique of masculine violation and consumption of nature, troped by Imogen's body as a tree, sushi, river, etc. Their narrative then pivots to the Welsh scenes in Shakespeare’s source text to imagine Imogen’s regeneration through gynocentric symbols such as honey-hives and “mother cedar.” To describe their project analytically in this way, however, underplays the project’s powerful non-linear logic. Its distributed agencies and associations leaves lots of imaginative room for viewers to insert their own experiential and imaginative connexions.
Professor Black describes the project: “Intermixing genres to create an Eco-Feminist performance piece, Once Upon a Time in the Anthropocene incorporates recycled cultural materials (along the lines of Charles Mee’s “Re-Making” projects), newly orchestrated. ...Inspired by the international practice-based-research performance project Cymbeline in the Anthropocene, this ensemble-generated work offers a grafted branch to its central trunk of eco-dramaturgical inquiry.”
Short Film: Once Upon a Time in... the Anthropocene

We’re very grateful to Cornell’s PMA 3801 students and Professor Black for their collaborative contribution to Cymbeline in the Anthropocene, and we warmly invite creative responses from other groups or individuals.  

Watch the video above, and join the conversation about this marvellous film on social media by tagging @ecocymbeline or using the hashtag #CymbelineAnthropocene!