The Bald Prima Donna



  • A one-act play by Ionesco, first performed in Paris in 1950, that was subsequently recognized as the first major work in the Theatre of the Absurd. This debut piece introduced many of the themes that were to characterize both Ionesco's own later works and those of other Absurdist writers. Principal among these is an awareness of the deficiencies of language. The bizarre conversations between the play's main characters - Mr and MrsSmith and Mr and Mrs Martin - were apparently inspired by the dialogues in an English-language phrase book. Audiences were at first bemused by the author's rejection of all accepted theatrical conventions, but in time responded to the desperate humour of the piece. The play's long residency at the Théâtre de la Huchette in Paris, beginning in 1957 and continuing to this day, has made it the world's longest-running play after The Mousetrap. In America the piece is known as The Bald Soprano.