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Setting

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by

Lauren Conlon

on 3 April 2014

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Transcript of Setting

Theatre of the Absurd
Setting
The settings in these stories are incredibly mundane and often unchanging.
The setting in
Waiting for Godot
is bluntly described as "A country road. A tree. Evening."(Beckett 6). This remains the only backdrop of the entire play (the primary actors remain stagnant).
In
The Dumb Waiter
, the lone backdrop is that of "A basement room. Two beds, flat against the back wall. A serving hatch, closed, between the two beds. A door to the kitchen and a lavatory, left. A door to a passage, right." (Pinter 129). Even when Gus leaves the main room to use the lavatory, the actual setting does not shift; Gus leaves the scene rather than the scene changing as a result of his movement.
The setting in
The Room
is deemed "A room in a large house. A door down right. A gas-fire down left. A gas-stove and sink, up left. A window up centre. The foot of a double-bed protrudes from aclove, up right." (Pinter 101). While other areas of the house (upstairs and downstairs) are explored in the characters' minds through dialogue, they are never physically explored for setting change.
In
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead--
although the setting does change throughout the play to keep its accuracy with
Hamlet--
the beginning of the play consists of "a place without any visible character" (Stoppard 11).
Regardless of the context, the settings in theatre of the absurd plays are subtle and dull so that they do not give away too much of the play (the playwrights love to keep their audiences in constant confusion). The settings are not meant to be the focus of these plays.
Characters
In all four works, all characters appear to be one dimensional.
The reader is offered little to no background information. (ex. Who is Godot and why are Estragon and Vladimir waiting for him in
Waiting for Godot
?)
New (and equally bland) characters are often introduced: some serve a slight purpose to the "plot" (ex. Riley in
The Room)
and others show no relevance to the events (ex. Mrs. and Mr. Sands in
The Room
).
In each work there is either one or two main characters that the central story revolves around. They seem to have no intelligence (ex. Ben and Gus from
The Dumb Waiter
).
Characters have one main focus or interest. They are easily distracted yet always gravitate back towards their original focus.
Dialogue is often vague and out of context, and most conversations contain miscommunication between one or both parties. Repetition is usually included.
What is Theatre of the Absurd?
A Theatre of the Absurd play is a play that holds no meaning. The plays are primarily about people who are trying to live in a meaningless world full of confusing dialogue, situations, and characters that do not develop in any form, but instead leave the audience puzzled.
Did you notice the path of the slides; a continuous circle. This represents the structure of these plays.
Lack of Conclusion
All four plays fail to make any conclusions. They all lead nowhere and leave the audience with more questions than answers.
The Room: p.124-126
The Dumb Waiter: p.164-165
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: p.125-126
Waiting for Godot: p. 60-61
Lack of Plot
Each work includes several different story lines that never coincide. In each play random pieces of information pop up at several different part without warning. In some plays, the structure is so non-existent that the beginning could be moved to the end and it would not matter to the audience because the play on its own holds such a chaotic arrangement that the order of events do not matter.
These plays also include a lot of repetition. Characters confuse themselves as a result of the chaotic structure, where when one character says a statement, the other character either does not hear the first one's statement, or choose to repeat it in order to confuse the other character.
The Room: Pinter pg 97
The Dumb Waiter: "…you come into a place when it's still dark, you come into a room you've never seen before, you sleep all day, you do your job, and then you go away in the night again" (Pinter).
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: Stoppard pg 42-44
Waiting for Godot: Beckett line 111-121

ROSE: It must get a bit damp downstairs.
MR. KIDD: Not as bad as upstairs.
ROSE: What about downstairs?
MR. KIDD: Eh?
ROSE: What about downstairs?
MR. KIDD: What about it?
ROSE: Must get a bit damp.

Pinter p.108
Full transcript