Theatre of the Absurd



  • A theatrical genre of the 1950s and 1960s, in which acceptedstage conventions were largely abandoned in order to present a viewof the world as meaningless and incomprehensible. The phrase was coinedby the theater critic Martin Esslin in 1961, who saw in the playsof Beckett, Ionesco, and others a reflection ofthe philosophical concept of the Absurd popularized by existentialistwriters such as Albert Camus. Ionesco's one-act play The BaldPrima Donna (1950) is perhaps the earliest play to be recognizablyabsurdist in its style and preoccupations, while Beckett's Waitingfor Godot (1953) is the quintessential work in the genre. Otherplaywrights to be associated with the style included the FrenchmanArthur Adamov and the American Edward Albee. Theimpression of a coherent movement was largely the result of an accidentalsimilarity of theme and treatment and by the 1960s the leading writershad already begun to take different paths.
    The reason why Absurdist plays take place in No Man's Landwith only two characters is primarily financial.
    Arthur Adamov