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Theatre of the absurd is a term coined by a Hungarian born critic called Martin Esslin, who made it the title of his book in 1962 The term refers to a.

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Presentation on theme: "Theatre of the absurd is a term coined by a Hungarian born critic called Martin Esslin, who made it the title of his book in 1962 The term refers to a."— Presentation transcript:


2 Theatre of the absurd is a term coined by a Hungarian born critic called Martin Esslin, who made it the title of his book in 1962 The term refers to a type of play which became popular in the 50s and 60s Presented on stage a philosophy by Albert Camus in his essay, The Myth Of Sisyphus. Such philosophy defines the human condition as basically meaningless What is Theatre of the Absurd? What is Theatre of the Absurd?

3 Characteristics of the theater of the Absurd movement include illogical situation, unconventional dialogues and minimal plots which reflect on the absurdity of the human existence. The word “absurd” is not meant to refer to ridiculous, but to being out of harmony Such theatre was shocking to audiences which view it as absurd, yet it is arguable on whether it is the world itself that is absurd.

4 World War 2 The First World War was meant to be the war to end all wars, therefore the outbreak of World War two along with all catastrophes it brought destroyed all basic assumptions people had about life. People began to lose faith in themselves, in God and in life when presented with the horrors of warfare and the holocaust. World War Two played a great role in setting the whole movement of Theatre of the Absurd into motion, mainly because absurdity was now part a person’s everyday life.

5 The defining playwrights of this movement are: Eugene Ionesco Jean Genet Harold Pinter Samuel Beckett

6 Eugene Ionesco Born in Slatina, Romania on November 13, 1909. Studied French literature at the University of Bucharest. Having decided to learn English at the age of 40, Ionesco did not write plays till later on in his life. He learned English by copying whole sentences in order to memorize them, he would then re-read them to himself. When he started writing plays Ionesco rejected the logical plot, character development, and thought of traditional drama, instead creating his own form of comedy. He was the one that began Theatre of the Absurd His plays dramatize the absurdity of common life, the meaninglessness of social conventions, and the pointless, and mechanical nature of modern civilization.

7 Jean Genet Born on December 19, 1910 in Paris his mother raised him for a year and then put him up for adoption. Most of his life he was in and out of jail. When he was not in jail he survived as a beggar, smuggler, and male prostitute. For most of WW2 he was in jail where he started writing, he wrote Our Lady of the Flowers, it was found and destroyed. He then re-wrote it by memory, which was smuggled out of prison and came to the attention of Cocteau and Sartre. They went to court and tried to get him out of life sentence. More then 40 intellectuals and artists petitioned the French Government on Genet’s behalf. He was eventually let out.

8 His writing relies heavily on ritual, transformations, interchangeable identities, the homosexuals, prostitutes, thieves, and outcasts of his plays are trapped in self- destructive circles. They express despair and loneliness of a man caught in a maze of mirrors, trapped by an endless progression of images that are, in reality, merely his own distorted reflection. Genet believed the theatre should be a provocative event, and was precise about how his works should be produced. Genet wrote of the gay world, without apology or explanation, revealing beauty in the harsh world in which his characters lived, loved, and died.

9 Harold Pinter Born in East London on October 10 th, 1930. In his teens he started writing for little magazines As a young man he studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Central School of Speech and Drama, but soon left to undertake an acting career under the stage name of David Baron. He travelled with a Shakespearean company and spent years working in provincial repertory before deciding to turn his attention to playwriting. Pinter's plays were first distinguished as a variation of absurd theatre, but were later more appropriately characterized as “comedy of menace,” a genre where the writer allows the audience/reader to eavesdrop on the play of domination and submission hidden in the most mundane of conversations.

10 Samuel Beckett Born on April 13, 1906 near Dublin, Ireland. Attended Trinity College, Dublin, studying modern language (French & Italian) graduated with a BA first class and was awarded the gold medal. The year 1946 was his most creative period, he wrote Mercier Et Camier (novel) and Nouvelles. His plays showed a lot of influence of vaudeville and burlesque It is difficult for an audience to find a single meaning to many of his plays, reflecting his despair at being unable to find a meaning to existence. Because of this his characters struggled to find meaning to life.

11 Waiting for Godot

12 Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett is considered the most famous and controversial absurdist play. Referred to as “The play where nothing happens” Can be described as a message on the human condition which is “the more things change, the more they stay the same”

13 Anti-Theatre or better known as Theatre of the Absurd can be seen by many as a negative statement of complete hopelessness. However for such movement to have been born out of something so universally depressing as World War Two it perhaps just simply casts hope. Overall “ Theatre of the Absurd” does force us to see and face awful situations which we have brought upon ourselves, so that we can do something about it.

14 Work Cited "Harold Pinter - Bibliography." N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2011.. "Jean Genet Biography (1910-1986)." Lenin Imports UK - Latest CDs, Cassettes, Vinyl, Movie, Art Memorabilia In Stock - Art, Rock, Movie & Loads More. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2011.. "Theatre of the Absurd." Theatre Database. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2011.. "Waiting For Godot | Mrs.Cordeiro's Web Page." WELCOME STUDENTS | Mrs.Cordeiro's Web Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2011.. Esslin, Martin. "The Theatre of the Absurd." In Theatre in the Twentieth Century. Ed. Robert W. Corrigan. New York: Grove Press, 1956. 229–244. Printed in Bloom, Harold, ed. Dark Humor, Bloom's Literary Themes. New York: Chelsea House, 2010. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. BLTDH003&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 15, 2011).

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