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The Theatre of the Absurd (French: Théâtre de l'Absurde), according to Wikipedia, is a theatrical style originating in France in in the late 1940's. It relies heavily on existential philosophy, and is a designation for plays of absurdist fiction, written by a number of playwrights from the late 1940s to the 1960s, as well as the theatre which has evolved from their work. It expressed the belief that, in a godless universe, human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down. Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence.

 

Theatre of the Absurd parallels the concepts of existential philosophy, through its direct presentation of its existential founding's. The theatrical style aims to show a world where man is born with only himself and nothing else, and must earn his place in the metaphysical world. Often Absurdist works utilise theatrical conventions including - but not limited to. Mime, Gibberish, Heightened Language, Codified Language and vignette. The pieces are generally lacking in conflict, and involve high levels of contrast and alienation, often exhibited together, i.e. A funeral scene performed by actors happily, or a birthday scene performed sombrely.

 

Critic Martin Esslin coined the term "Theatre of the Absurd" in his 1960 essay and, later, book of the same name. He related these plays based on a broad theme of absurdity, 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 an invisible outside force. Though 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".

 

Playwrights commonly associated with the Theatre of the Absurd include Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Fernando Arrabal, and Edward Albee. - End Wikipedia quote