The Theatre Of Absurd

by Annie Saxena on Feb 09, 2023

“The theatre of absurd is the true theatre of our time” – Martin Esslin The theatre of absurd is a designation given to particular plays with absurd fiction post world war II. The term theatre of absurd was coined by the famous critic Martin Esslin. The primary writers of absurd fiction were the European playwrights in the late 1950’s who largely focused on the idea of existentialism and tried to put forth what the meaning of humanity or human existence would be when it would no longer have purpose or meaning. Albert Camus also uses the term ‘theatre of absurd’ in his 1942 essays which talks about the myth of Sisyphus. The absurd in these plays is the reaction of a man to a world which has no meaning and man as a puppet controlled by some outside force or divination. When the plays of Lonesco, Beckett, Genet and Adamov first appeared on stage, they left the audience puzzled and outraged all the critics present there. These plays did not follow all the rules established by the original plays and the standard by which all these plays were judged. It was so different from the stereotypical well-made play, that instead of presenting the good old society and further conforming to its norms, it presented something deep and troubling to all of mankind. “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett shows two characters who are day after day waiting for Godot to come at a certain place but Godot never does. The question that baffles them is that what will they do once Godot actually comes? They neither know who or what Godot is. This sort of meaningless pursuit by Vladimir and Estragon who are the two characters from this play is what is termed as absurd or “theatre of absurd”. The plays of ‘theatre of absurd’ typically represent human existence as nonsensical and full of chaos. The works of absurdist plays rarely follow a particular plot, the dialogues are often redundant, the passage of time within the play is unclear and the characters express their frustrations with philosophical questions such as meaning of life and question the existence of god. Waiting for Godot (En Attendant Godot) was first performed in 1953 in Paris. This play played a major role in making the idea of “theatre of absurd” extremely popular among the audience. This play defined the external world as menacing and portrayed it to be incoherent and strange. Beckett’s characters are tied together by this fear of being left alone entirely. In this play the two characters are seen in a continuative, repetitive and fragmented dialogue. They are waiting to establish some form of communication that will help them understand their reason for living. The reason of their absurd existence is that they are waiting for Godot. The actions in an absurd play do not move ahead logically, as there are a lot of contractions and the end is inconclusive. There is no clear understanding of time, the characters are very different and the audience is not able to connect with them emotionally. The play poses a philosophical question which the characters and audience may try to solve even though there may be no