Theatre of the Absurd


On the occasion of West Berlin Festival Weeks the workshop of Schiller theatre will give “Fin de Partie” of Samuel Beckett. … Left Ernst Schroeder (Hamm), right Horst Bollmann (Clov). September 26. 1967, Berlin, Germany

“The Theatre of the Absurd (French: théâtre de l’absurde [teɑtʁ(ə) də lapsyʁd]) is a post-World War II designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1950s, as well as one for the style of theatre which has evolved from their work. Their work focused largely on the idea of existentialism and expressed what happens when human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down. Logical construction and argument give way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence. Critic Martin Esslin coined the term in his 1960 essay ‘Theatre of the Absurd’. He related these plays based on a broad theme of the Absurd, similar to the way Albert Camus uses the term in his 1942 essay The Myth of Sisyphus. 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 invisible outside forces. This style of writing was first popularized by the Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot (1953). Although 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‘. These plays were shaped by the political turmoil, scientific breakthrough, and social upheaval going on in the world around the playwrights during these times. While absurdists believed that life is absurd, they also believed that death and the ‘after life’ were equally absurd if not more so, and that whether people live or not, all of their actions are pointless, and everything will lead to the same end (hence the repetitiveness in many of these absurdist plays). … Playwrights commonly associated with the Theatre of the Absurd include Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov, Harold Pinter, Luigi Pirandello, Tom Stoppard, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Miguel Mihura, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Fernando Arrabal, Václav Havel, Edward Albee, Malay Roy Choudhury, Tadeusz Różewicz, Sławomir Mrożek, N.F. Simpson, and Badal Sarkar. …”
Wikipedia
British Library – Nonsense talk: Theatre of the Absurd
NY Times – Theatre: Of the Absurd (February 12, 1962)
On Absurdity. Adorno, Beckett, and the Demise of Existentialism
amazon: The Theatre of the Absurd by Martin Esslin
YouTube: Beckett, Ionesco, and the Theater of the Absurd: Crash Course Theater #45, Why should you read “Waiting For Godot”? – Iseult Gillespie

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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