The Theatre of the Absurd
- Greek roots
- Camus’s essay “Myth” and Esslin
- Traditional vs. Absurd
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
- 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 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.
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.
- 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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