Theatre of the Absurd

by Milos Itic on March 12, 2011

The Theatre of the Absurd represent and definite a form of drama that emphasizes the absurdity of human existence by employing disjointed, repetitious, and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations, and plots that lack realistic or logical development.

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The Theatre of the Absurd (French: Théâtre de l’Absurde) is a designation for plays of absurdist fiction, written by a number of playwrights from the late 1940s to the 1960s, as well as the theatre which has evolved from their work. It expressed the belief that, in a godless universe, human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down. Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence.[1]

Critic Martin Esslin coined the term “Theatre of the Absurd” in his 1960 essay and, later, book of the same name. He related these plays based on a broad theme of absurdity, similar to the way Albert Camus uses the term in his 1942 essay, “The Myth of Sisyphus”.[2] The Absurd in these plays takes the form of man’s reaction to a world apparently without meaning or man as a puppet controlled or menaced by an invisible outside force. Though the term is applied to a wide range of plays, some characteristics coincide in many of the plays: broad comedy, often similar to Vaudeville, mixed with horrific or tragic images; characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions; dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense; plots that are cyclical or absurdly expansive; either a parody or dismissal of realism and the concept of the “well-made play”.

Playwrights commonly associated with the Theatre of the Absurd include Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Fernando Arrabal, and Edward Albee.

http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/Slavonic/Absurd.htm

http://www.theatredatabase.com/20th_century/theatre_of_the_absurd.html

 

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