British Universities Film & Video Council

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Pastorale

Synopsis
PASTORALE is a music theatre piece by experimental composer Trevor Wishart (b.1946) which takes a humorous and critical look at the Creation myths and the problems of freewill and determinism. The film combines staged musical interludes with a narrative, and includes an interview with Wishart in which he explains the ideas behind the work. The narrator is a magician figure who represents both God and the behaviourist B.F. Skinner.

This character introduces some of the influential myths and theories about the world and man’s place in the Genesis story, the universe as machine. Descartes’ theories of man, and Skinner’s behaviourism as it is portrayed in his novel ‘Walden 2’. He appears to control the actions of the two musicians, a male tuba player and a female flautist, who perform a recast version of Bach’s ‘Kyrie’ from the ‘Mass in B minor’ in a small set which represents both a mechanical clock and a ‘Skinner box’, used for conducting experiments on rats.

The musicians begin by behaving and performing ‘as instructed’ by God/Skinner, but gradually their automated responses break down as they revolt against the denial of human freewill. At the end of the piece they assume control themselves and, in a reversal of the Genesis myth, they magic God/Skinner away. In interview Wishart describes how Pastorale arose from a complex set of intermeshing ideas - musical, historical, metaphysical and philosophical - and a wish to parody Skinner’s beliefs by juxtaposing them with the Bible’s story of the creation and with the suffering inherent in Bach’s music.

He argues the the structured world represented in creationist and behaviourist theories is antithetical to true creativity which, for him, must always challenge authority and the supposed ‘order of things’.
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Year of release
1982
Subjects
Music; Philosophy; Psychology
Keywords
behavioural psychology; determinism; free will; Skinner, Burrhus Frederic; music - contemporary

Credits

Director
David Hutt
Music
Trevor Wishart
Cast
Mick Banks 

Distribution Formats

Type
DVD
Format
Region 2 PAL
Price
£50.00
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
50 minutes
Year
1982

Production Company

Name

Thread Cross Films

Distributor

Name

Concord Media

Email
sales@concordmedia.org.uk
Web
http://www.concordmedia.org.uk/ External site opens in new window
Phone
01473 726 012
Address
Rosehill Centre
22 Hines Road
Ipswich
IP3 9BG
Notes
A long-established, not-for-profit organisation with a large collection DVDs, specialising in the sectors of general and mental health, child care, race relations, war and peace, addictions, the third world, ecology, civil rights, personal relationships, educational issues, and social work training. Concord also handles titles made for the Graves Medical Audio-visual Library. Sale on DVD. Formerly known as Concord Video and Film Council. In 2014 Concord began to offer selected films as Video on Demand, via Vimeo.

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