The Theatre of the Absurd



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the Theatre of the Absurd

Outline

  • Greek roots
  • Camus’s essay “Myth” and Esslin
  • Popular:
        • Freud
        • WWII (nuclear)
  • Beckett
  • Traditional vs. Absurd
  • Language
  • Logic

History of the Absurd: Roots: Greece

Term: “THEATRE OF THE ABSURD”

  • The Theatre of the Absurd is a term coined by Martin Esslin in 1962.
  • The term refers to a type of play which presented the philosophy of Albert Camus (articulated in his 1942 essay, The Myth of Sisyphus).

Albert Camus: wrote the essay “Myth of Sisyphus

Camus argued that humanity had to admit that a rational explanation of the universe was beyond its reach.

  • Camus argued that humanity had to admit that a rational explanation of the universe was beyond its reach.
  • the world must ultimately be seen as absurd or ridiculous.
  • There is no fate, God, or reason behind anything.

One reason Absurdism became popular was because Freud became popular.

  • One reason Absurdism became popular was because Freud became popular.

Id= Animal desires

  • Id= Animal desires
  • Ego=How we are taught to behave
  • Superego= negotiates between them.
  • Freud thought we ignored our id too much and that made us insane.

Absurdists loved Freud’s id. There is a lot in life that was insane that we ignore to our peril.

WWII: Nuclear Threat

WWII also popularized Absurdism.

  • the trauma of living under threat of nuclear annihilation showed everyone how ridiculous life is.
  • Suddenly, one did not need to be an abstract thinker in order to be able to reflect upon absurdity.

Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

Absurd vs. Traditional

  • traditional theatre attempts to create a photographic representation of life.
  • the Theatre of the Absurd relates to the entire world including the world of dreams and the id.

Theatre vs. The Theatre of the Absurd

Language: “words, words, words.”

  • Language is meaningless.
  • Words fail to express the essence of human experience.
  • The Theatre of the Absurd shows language is a very unreliable and tool.
  • It uses conventional speech, cliches, slogans and technical jargon, to distort and parody.

Logic

  • Rational thought only deals with the superficial aspects of things. Nonsense, on the other hand, opens up a glimpse of the infinite/ the truth.
  • Absurd drama subverts logic. It relishes the the logically impossible.
  • Logic is a prison that hides reality.


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