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Theatre of the Absurd

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Haley Chouinard

on 23 April 2013

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Transcript of Theatre of the Absurd

Theatre of the Absurd Theatre of the Absurd Waiting for Godot Original Production Modern Productions Samuel Beckett The Absurdist Movement The Absurdist Movement Innovation & Controversy Scenic, Costume and Lighting Practices Acting Styles of the Day Directing Style Acting Styles "In an absurd play you see magnified characters in an absurd situation. Absurdism is about provoking your thoughts with laughter. It has no beginning, middle or end and doesn't look like conventional theatre.
Dramatic conventions include:
Voice: words, sound and noise used as a spectacle. Unusual use of silence.
Movement: mix of realistic, non-realistic, ritualistic and circus
Gestures: inventive, orientated toward hands and feet
Emotion: use of primitive, ritualistic and Artuad techniques
Ideas: Relevant to existentialism Language: part of theatrical spectacle and often illogical
Mood and atmosphere: extremely varied
Pace: varies
Special techniques: slapstick, dance, tumbling "Absurd plays require a lot more work from the actors, the directors and the audience. Just because meaning isn't on the surface doesn't mean it isn't there. For example, on the surface it seems that there is little meaning to 'Waiting For Godot' because nothing apparent happens. But how many people live lives where 'nothing' happens? How many people live their lives and do their jobs in endless state of repetition? Its a pretty common phenomenon. How does that reflect the action of the play? All of the sudden this play has a grounding..." Costumes, sets and lights were very minimalistic.
The original set was nothing more than a bare stage with a tree and a bench.
The costumes were just what they would have worn at the time of the play (early 1950's) just a bit aged, tattered and distressed. Albert Camus said in "The Myth of Sisyphus" that "the absurd is born out of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world."
Post WWII Europe was completely devastated. People began asking questions that had never really been asked before. People began to wonder if life had meaning or if there was really a God or an afterlife.
Plays like "Godot" were written which asked these questions without offering an answer.
The effects of WWII were reflected on stage in the stories that were told and the questions that were raised. This play was an innovation.
When it premiered in France, French critics were known to say, "We've never seen anything like this. This is not theatre as we know it."
The English were equally confused.
English critic Kenneth Tynan said that it "changed the rules of theatre."
This play was also controversial because people disagree on the meaning.
Beckett said "Why people have to complicate a thing so simple, I can't make out." The goal of the absurdist theatre is to shock the audience out of their complacent existence and confront the limits of the human condition.
The main idea is that the human condition is meaningless and out of step with the universe.
Other absurdist playwrights: Arthur Adamov, Eugene Ianesco, Harold Pinter and Jean Genet.
Movements that impacted absurdism: Verbal nonsense (Lewis Carroll), allegory and dreams (Alfred Jarry), surrealism and avantgarde theatre The show opened on January 5, 1953 at the Theatre de Babylone in Paris.
It was directed by Roger Blin.
The set was simple and included only what the script called for: a tree, a blank back drop, some props and a plain wooden floor.
There was no financial backer.
The theater only sat 75 people.
The cast was as follows:
Estragon - Pireer Latour; Vladimir - Lucien Riambourg; Pozzo - Roger Blin; Lucky - Jean Martin "Waiting for Godot" was revived on Broadway in 2009 for the first time since 1956.
It starred Nathan Lane as Estragon; Bill Irwin as Vladimir; John Goodman as Pozzo; and John Glover as Lucky.
There was also a 2009 revival in London starring Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart. They will be reprising these roles on Broadway in fall 2013.
In 2007, the Classical Theatre of Harlem staged productions of "Godot" in New Orleans neighborhoods destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. One was staged in the Ninth Ward and another was staged in the Gentilly section. Born in Dublin on April 13, 1906 to Frank and May Beckett.
Studied French and Italian at Trinity College in Dublin from 1923-1927.
Moved to Paris shortly after graduating college.
All of his works were written in French and personally translated to English.
Became depressed and began Jungian therapy, an experience that impacted his work.
In 1938 he was nearly stabbed to death by a pimp in Paris. He makes references to this in his work.
Beckett fought in WWII for the French Resistance as a courier.
He married Suzanne Dechavaux-Dumesnil in a secret ceremony in 1961.
He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.
He died on Dec. 22, 1989, the same year as his wife. They were buried in Paris. History of the Time Period After WWII, the European economy had crumbled with 70% of the industrial infrastructure being destroyed but, over the next ten years the economy made a remarkable recovery. Entire nations were driven from their native lands by war and occupational forces. The Soviet Union and the United States divided up Germany in order to redevelop the country but, consequently, started the Cold War.
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