Presentation on theme: " “I personally would like to bring a tortoise onto the stage, turn it into a racehorse, then into a hat, a song, a dragon and a fountain of water. One."— Presentation transcript:
“I personally would like to bring a tortoise onto the stage, turn it into a racehorse, then into a hat, a song, a dragon and a fountain of water. One can dare anything in the theatre and it is the place where one dares the least.” Eugene Ionesco
Definition: Theatre of the Absurd There is no true, standard definition of absurdism—instead, this type of theatre breaks standard conventions of playwrighting that had been in existence for decades, which gives a set of guidelines for absurdist plays. Often called “anti-theatre”: does not follow standard plot lines (no clear beginning, middle, or end), unrecognizable characters, dialogue seems meaningless Writers within the theatre of the absurd are attempting to express their vision of the world
“Drama lies in extreme exaggeration of the feelings, an exaggeration that dislocates flat everyday reality. Eugene Ionesco
Who’s Who in Absurdism Phrase first coined by Martin Esslin in 1962, but writers in this genre were already in existence before Esslin gave them the title of Absurdist writers. Eugene Ionesco is considered the “father” or “founder” of absurdism simply because he wrote the most recognizable absurdist plays in a short span of time. Others: Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov, and Harold Pinter.
“You can only predict things after they have happened.” Eugene Ionesco
Characteristics Dreams on stage—communication of images rather than complete ideas; ambiguous and may have many meanings that can all be considered the “right” meaning; does not necessarily contain a point or a plot Does not necessarily tell a story. Instead, the absurdist plays are more concerned with “expressing a sense of wonder, of incomprehension, and at times of despair, at the lack of cohesion and meaning they find in the world.”
“There are more dead people than living. And their numbers are increasing. The living are getting rarer.” Eugene Ionesco
Little faith in a rational and well-ordered universe. Absurdist plays instead express the shock at the loss of clear systems of beliefs and values. “Man sees himself faced with a universe that is both frightening and illogical—in a word, absurd. All assurances of hope, all explanations of ultimate meaning have suddenly been unmasked as nonsensical illusions, empty chatter, whistling in the dark.” Use dialogue to show the lack of communication in present society. Dialogue often does not make sense and seems to be ramblings, but it instead represents how humans tend to use meaningless conversations to fill in the empty spaces and pretend to be interested in actually talking to one another.
“I just can’t get used to life.” Eugene Ionesco
Prefers the unexpected and logically impossible over realism and logic. Based more in the abstract than the concrete. Absurdists writers realize that the world is ceasing to make sense; man has no answers to basic questions of life. Therefore, the writer feels compelled to deal with essences rather than appearances. “Absurd Theatre can be seen as an attempt to restores the importance of myth and ritual to our age, by making man aware of the ultimate realities of his condition, by instilling in him again the lost sense of cosmic wonder and primeval anguish…It is felt that there is mystical experience in confronting the limits of human condition.” ~ Dr. Jan Culik
“Logic is a very beautiful thing. As long as it is not abused.” Eugene Ionesco
Origins Absurdist elements have been seen in many different genres and time periods, starting with the origins of theatre in ancient Greece: Old Comedy and Aristophanes (ancient Greece)—wild humor, slapstick, exaggeration Tradition of dream and nightmare literature from ancient Greece and Rome Ritual dramas (ancient Greece) first seen in the Festival of Dionysus Medieval Miracle plays (Middle Ages)—everyman-type characters dealing with existential problems Commedia del’arte (Italy)—miming and clowning, stereotypical characters, exaggeration, identity issues Shakespeare—use of fools and insanity scenes
“When I was born, I was almost fourteen years old. That’s why I was able to understand more easily than most what it was all about.” Eugene Ionesco
Reactions to WWII The present Theatre of the Absurd was centered in Paris and came in the late 40s and 50s as a reaction to WWII. Most of the writers were outcasts from their countries of origin and ended up in Paris, then had to escape during the German occupation of WWII. “The global nature of [World War II] and the resulting trauma of living under threat of nuclear annihilation put into stark perspective the essential precariousness of human life.” Seeing such a dramatic change to the world and an intense display of the darker side of humanity caused the absurdist writers to re-think their concept of reality and limits of humanity.
“Childhood is the world of miracle or of magic: it is as if creation rose luminously out of the night, all new and fresh and astonishing. Childhood is over the moment things are no longer astonishing. When the world gives you a feeling of “déjà vu,” when you are used to existence, you become an adult. Eugene Ionesco
Example: Theatre of the Absurd Inoesco’s Amédée (1953) “A middle-aged husband and wife are shown in a situation which is clearly not taken from real life. They have not left their flat for years. The wife earns her living by operating some sort of telephone switchboard; the husband is writing a play, but has never got beyond the first few lines. In the bedroom is a corpse. It has been there for many years. It may be the corpse of the wife’s lover whom the husband killed when he found them together, but this is by no means certain; it may also have been a burglar, or a stray visitor. But the oddest thing about it is that it keeps growing larger and larger; it is suffering from ‘geometric progression, the incurable disease of the dead.’ And in the course of the play, it grows so large that eventually an enormous foot bursts from the bedroom into the living-room, threatening to drive Amédée and is wife out of their home.”
“There are many sides to reality. Choose the one that’s best for you.” Eugene Ionesco
Eugene Ionesco: Biography Born November 26, 1909 in Slatina, Romania. His family moved to Paris the following year, where he lived until 1925 when his parents divorced and he moved back to Romania with his father. Ionesco moved back to Paris in 1938 to begin research on French poetry, but he was forced to relocate to Marseilles in 1940 due to the German invasion of Paris. Finally wrote his first play in 1948 at the age of 39 when he decided to learn English and began by copying whole sentences from a workbook to memorize them. He began to notice the clichés and conversations in the workbook were meaningless but were supposed to be “realistic” and represent real life conversations. His experiences with this English translating became his first play, The Bald Soprano, first staged in 1950.
“I can easily picture the worst, because the worst can easily happen.” Eugene Ionesco
Ionesco followed the slow success of his first play with a string of immediately successful plays: The Lesson (1951), The Chairs (1952), and Jack or The Submission (1955). His comedies caused a stir that resulted in a front- page battle against Kenneth Tynan on the pages of the London Observer, in which Tynan called Ionesco the “messiah of the enemies of realism in the theatre.” In the end, Ionesco defended himself by saying that his plays were “an attempt to revitalize a dead form of communication, to renew the language by attempting to say new things in a new way.” Ionesco died on March 29, 1994, at the age of 84.
“For me, it is as though at every moment the actual world had completely lost its actuality. As though there was nothing there; as though there were no foundations for anything or as though it escaped us. Only one thing, however, is vividly present: the constant tearing of the veil of appearances; the constant destruction of everything in construction. Nothing holds together, everything falls apart.” Eugene Ionesco