Arthur Adamov

Definition

Theater

  • (1908 - 70) Russian-born French playwright, who becameone of the leading exponents of the Theatre of the Absurdin the 1950s. Adamov, who did not begin writing for the theater untilthe late 1940s, was heavily influenced by the dramatic works of Strindberg.His first play, La Parodie, was written in 1947 but not performeduntil 1952. The play, which features a large handless clock toweringover the set, satirizes man's attempts to find the elusive meaningof existence. In 1950 The Large and Small Manoeuvre and TheInvasion were both staged. Major acclaim only arrived, however,with the 1953 production of the Kafkaesque Professor Taranne,which concerns a university professor who can no longer maintain hispublic character. Ping Pong (1955), another well-known work,revolves around a pinball machine and the obsession of the centralcharacters with this futile game of chance. The play marks a moveaway from Adamov's dream world towards the more overtly politicalconcerns that characterize such later works as the Brechtian Paolo Paoli(1957), about the turn-of-the-century trade in ostrich feathers, andSpring '71 (1961), which provides an account of the ParisCommune of 1871. Off Limits (1968), set in America at the timeof the Vietnam War, and If Summer Returned (1970) were hislast plays before his death from a drugs overdose. The private neuroses that informed the nightmarish world of his plays are detailed at length in his autobiographical works The Confession (1946) and Man andChild (1968).
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