A paper I present on an enchanting genre of Drama: Absurdity
That was in 8-11-2007
Theater of the Absurd
Absurdity is a term applied to the modern sense of human purposelessness in a universe without meaning or value. Many writers of fiction and drama have stressed the absurd nature of human existence: prominent examples are the novels and stories of Franz Kafka, in which the characters face suddenly incomprehensible predicaments.
The critic Martin Esslin coined the phrase theatre of the absurd in 1961 to refer to a number of dramatists of the 1950s (led by Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco) whose works evoke the absurd by abandoning logical form, character, and dialogue but with realistic illusion. Esslin saw the work of these playwrights as giving artistic articulation to Albert Camus’ philosophy, existentialism , that life is inherently without meaning, and so one must find one’s own meaning as illustrated in his work The Myth of Sisyphus. According to Martin Esslin, the four defining playwrights of the movement are Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, and Arthur Adamov.
The ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ is thought to have its origins in Dadaism, nonsense poetry of the 1910s – 1920s. Despite its critics, this genre of theatre achieved popularity during World War II, because it highlighted the nothingness of human life. The ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ is primarily known as theatre that indented to shock the audience. In its origin, it was tied to extremely small theaters in the Quartier Latin; the movement later gained international prominence. The expression “Theater of the Absurd” has been criticized by some writers, and one also finds the expressions “Anti-Theater” and “New Theater”.
In practice, The Theatre of the Absurd departs from realistic characters, situations and all of the associated theatrical conventions. Time, place and identity are ambiguous and fluid. Meaningless plots, repetitive or nonsensical dialogue to create dream-like, or even nightmare-like moods. There is a slight difference, however, between the careful and artful use of chaos and meaningless chaos. While many of the plays of this type seem to be random and meaningless on the surface, an underlying structure and meaning is usually found in the midst of the chaos.
Hinchliffe, Arnold P. The Absurd. Britain: Methuen, 1969.