A blog for the comprehensive understanding of Literature, Applied Linguistics and ELT

October 9, 2009

Theatre of the Absurd/Absurd Drama


The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays written primarily by a number of French playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work. These works usually employ illogical situations, unconventional dialogue, and minimal plots to express the apparent absurdity of human existence. The French thinkers such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre used the term absurd in the 1940s in recognition of their inability to find any rational explanation for human life. The term described what they understood as the fundamentally meaningless situation of humans in a confusing, hostile, and indifferent world. The salient features of Absurd Drama are as follows:
  1. In practice, absurd drama departs from realistic characters, situations and all of the associated theatrical conventions. Time, place and identity are ambiguous and fluid, and even basic causality frequently breaks down.
  2. Meaningless plots, repetitive or nonsensical dialogue and dramatic non-sequiturs are often used to create dream-like, or even nightmare-like moods.
  3. Absurd drama reveals the meaninglessness of human existence.
  4. Absurd drama produces the effect of alienation. It presents anxiety, despair, and a sense of loss.
  5. It presents a pessimistic vision of humanity struggling vainly to find a purpose and to control its fate.
  6. The absurdist think rationally and not romantically. They present life as an absurdity or farce, or comedy.
  7. Absurd drama is not purposeful and specific as it solves no problem.
The British scholar Martin Esslin first used the phrase “theatre of the absurd” in a 1961 critical study of several contemporary dramatists, including the Irish-born playwright Samuel Beckett and the French playwrights Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Arthur Adamov. Esslin saw the work of these playwrights as giving artistic articulation to Albert Camus' philosophy that life is inherently without meaning, as illustrated in his work The Myth of Sisyphus. The Theatre of the Absurd is thought to have its origins in Dadaism, nonsense poetry and avant-garde art of the 1910s – 1920s. Despite its critics, this genre of theatre achieved popularity when World War II  highlighted the essential precariousness of human life. Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is one of the most prominent examples of this type of drama.

References

“Theatre of the Absurd.” Wikipedia. 2006. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 28 September 2006
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_of_the_Absurd >.
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3 comments:

  1. The greatest theatre of the absurd is real life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Mohamed Mughal
    I agree with you. It is, in fact, a universal truth.

    ReplyDelete
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