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origins of style

- ‘The Theatre of the Absurd’ – Martin Esslin, 1961
- ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ was derived from the philosophical writings of Algerian-born French author Albert Camus. He believed that at root the human condition was absurd.
- ‘Absurd’ originally meant harmony before meaning ridiculous
- First can be seen in plays at the turn of the 20th century (e.g. Alfred Jarry’s Ubu plays, 1896)


contexts of style

- Horror of World War II
- Rise of political ideologies such as fascism and communism
- Questioning of meaning and life
- Existentialism


key practitioners

- Arthur Adamov
- Samuel Beckett
- Jean Genet
- Eugene Ionesco


intention and purpose

- Deconstruct language
- Break the links between word and meaning, between object and word
- Express the meaningless of life



- Repetition
- Unresolved endings
- Pauses/silences
- Ambiguous setting
- Time, place, identity are often blurred
- Illogical



- “true theatre of our time” because it reflects the state of human condition which is absurd
- Exaggerates boss/slave with Lucky and Pozzo
- James Joyce experimented with language
- Lucky’s actions are more meaningful then his dialogue because the true content of the play is in its action, not language
- Allows the audience to question their life and ‘liberate’ them
- Audience is being invited to attempt their own interpretations of the human condition
- Conventional theatre goes from A to B, absurd heater doesn’t