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Theatre of the Absurd Lecture (excerpt)

by unknown


a) Emerged in Europe and the United States after World War II. It was a time where people were discouraged with the unjustness of the world.

b) Penned by critic Martin Esslin.

c) Esslin got the name "Theatre of the Absurd" from Albert Camus' philosophical book The Myth of Sisphus. In it, Camus states that there is a separation between "man and his life, the actor and his setting," and that this separation "constitutes the feeling of Absurdity."

d) Plays falling into this category of absurdism convey humanity's sense of alienation and its loss of bearings in an illogical, unjust, and ridiculous world.

e) Although serious, the plays can be quite comical... with much irony.


a) Traditional plots in plays proceed in a logical way from a beginning, through a development, to the end. Everything is in order... not plays labeled as theatre of the absurd.

b) Plays can break all the major rules. Titles can have nothing to do withthe actual play itself. Triggers can be presented with no heap; action can begin and then forgotten. The plots can be ridiculous andunbelievable. In Ionesco's Amedee, a long-dead corpse in an adjoining room continues to grow during the course of the play and finally crashes through the wall of the apartment onstage.

c) Read example from Albee's The American Dream on pg. 296 of The Theatre Experience by Wilson.


a) Non sequitur is a Latin term meaning "it does not follow", it implies that something does not follow from what has gone before.

b) Sentences do not follow in sequence, and words do not mean what we expect them to mean.

c) Read example from Lucky's speech in Waiting For Godot pg. 45.

d) Incoherent and jargon fill the absurdist play.


a) Characters have an element of the ridiculous within their actions.

b) Frequently exemplify as existential point of view toward human behavior.

Pages: 8 - File size: 56k

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