the absurd theatre

the absurd theatre

  • Submitted By: shweta06
  • Date Submitted: 07/06/2014 11:05 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 2764
  • Page: 12


"What do I know about man's destiny?  I could tell you more about radishes."
-Samuel Beckett

The ‘Theater of the Absurd’, came about as a reaction to World War II.  It took the basis of existential philosophy and combined it with dramatic elements to create a style of theatre which presented a world which can not be logically explained, life is in one word, ABSURD! For years theatre goers had been accustomed to well-structured plays with defined plots and themes and the strong presence of a protagonist. In this scenario the appearance of the Theatre of the absurd was initially met with a wave of shock and rejection
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. British scholar Martin Esslin first used the phrase “theater of the absurd” in a 1961 critical study of several contemporary dramatists, including Irish-born playwright Samuel Beckett and French playwrights Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Arthur Adamov. These writers reacted against traditional Western theatrical conventions, rejecting assumptions about logic, characterization, language, and plot. Although absurdist theatre appears completely opposed to the realistic ideas of naturalism, the work is often founded on very precise observation of human nature and behaviour.
The origins of the Theatre of the Absurd are rooted in the avant-garde experiments in art of the 1920s and 1930s. At the same time, it was undoubtedly strongly influenced by the traumatic experience of the horrors of the Second World War, which showed the total impermanence of any values, shook the validity of any conventions and highlighted the precariousness of human life and its fundamental meaninglessness and...

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