Broad Overview of Absurdist Theatre

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| The Theatre of the Absurd | Cale Matthews | * A broad look at Absurdism * Eugene Ionesco * Absurdisms Impact * Rhinoceros | | IB Theatre Arts | | Broad Look at absurdism Absurdism is the term given to the theatre form coined by Martin Esslin in his 1962 book, The Theatre of the Absurd. The Theatre of the Absurd came to light through the 1950’s and 1960’s but was first noticeably documented within an essay entitled The Myth of Sisyphus, written by Albert Camus. This essay highlighted a major philosophy behind Absurdist theatre, the idea that human condition is fundamentally meaningless. Camus argued the point that reaching an understanding as to why humans were on the Earth was utterly impossible. This being the case, it was justified that the world must simply be pointless, it must be absurd. Playwrights of the theatre of the Absurd aim to get this message of absurdity within the world across to their audience. Each playwright finds a sense of bewilderment, anxiety and pure wonder about the functions of this unexplainable universe. Esslin stated that there are five major playwrights of the absurdist theatre. These playwrights include Eugene Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov and Harold Pinter. It was World War II that specifically skyrocketed the Theatre of the Absurd into modern day theatre. The global nature of this conflict and the resulting trauma of living under threat of nuclear annihilation put into stark perspective the essential precariousness of human life. Suddenly, one did not need to be an abstract thinker in order to be able to reflect upon absurdity: the experience of absurdity became part of the average person's daily existence. During this period, a “prophet” of the absurd appeared. Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) rejected realism in the theatre, calling for a return to myth and magic and to the

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