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This essay shows how Shakespeare's King Lear and Sarah Kane's adaptation Blasted represent dying and death as both inevitable and insufferable. It is only in the context of performance, and the powerful emotional responses elicited from the audiences, that the play's particular representations of death and dying serve an index of a wider cultural problematic. This essay then moves to construct this spectacle as an ecopolitical concern.
I contend that desiring to avoid death, or viewing death as an insufferable horror, generates a particularly antagonistic relation with the material world and animal condition. This is most explicitly articulated in the emotional states of the spectators: expressed in the first instance as a desire not to watch or experience the horrors represented in these two plays. These same spectators are, perversely, unable to look away because of death's inevitability. This essay then considers the ecological implications of such a dynamic in terms of the reception of these plays in performance. Beginning by constructing death as an ecopolitical concern, the essay then moves to explore the potential for adaptation—in this case Kane's digestion of Shakespeare—as a creative practice capable of moving us towards the ecopolitics of particular issues. Then the final section traces how reading the plays in a particular way foregrounds death and dying as an ecopolitical concern.