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Theatre of the Absurd

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S Bort

on 16 October 2012

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Transcript of Theatre of the Absurd

Theatre of the Absurd — n
drama in which normal conventions and dramatic structure are ignored or modified in order to present life as irrational or meaningless* To what extent should the practice of Absurdism apply to lighting design in Waiting for Godot? “Waiting for Godot”: A Study
of Direction Common elements in the script:

– Short, staccato sentences
– The monologues lead nowhere and tend to simply ramble on about nothing related to the plot or much else in the play
– Characters are interchangeable
– There is simplistic Theatre of the Absurd, and then there is intricate

Theatre of the Absurd:
• “Waiting for Godot” is an example of simple Theatre of the Absurd
• “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” is an example of intricate Theatre
of the Absurd
• Almost all Absurd plays deal with the main characters being “trapped”
or “caged”– by their own actions or by others’

– Little to no plot development, except in crucial moments

• Most of the script is comprised of dialogue between characters, which is usually pointless, symbolic, or both Background Originally Paris based, Theatre of the Absurd was in reaction to Realism, and employs existentialist, nihilistic and absurdist values.
It was an avant-garde interpretation and departure from the traditional convention of Realism.
Theatre of the Absurd is a departure from Realism*:
-Time, Place and identity matter little, they are in fact ambiguous in nature
-It employs the chaos theory and has a very entropic version of events* Waiting for Godot Lighting Specifications:
"Evening." (Becket, Waiting for Godot, 3)
"The light suddenly fails. In a moment it is night. The moon rises at back, mounts in the sky, stands still, shedding a pale light on the scene." (Beckett, pg. 43)
"Next Day. Same time. Same place." (Beckett, 46) Role of A Lighting Designer There are four goals for a lighting designer*:
1) To influence the understanding of the audience, and to influence their perception
2) Illuminate the stage
3)"sculpt, mold and model actors, setting and costumes" (Gillette, 4)
4) to help create an environment that the director desires (within the context of the director's concept) Research Question: How does the script influence the direction of Theatre of the Absurd? How Can this Apply? Lighting would have to affect the mood, as well as provide insight into time -this is not necessarily the case in Theatre of the Absurd, as it attempts to strip itself of convention. The text requires evening on the country road, so there is a level of realism, however this is up to the directorial stance. Even more important is the shift from day to evening that the script asks. This can be done with a gobo, and should use paler colors, of a blue nature to indicate moonlight, but also darker, more purple, cool colors to indicate night. The specifications of this type of theatre aren't very specified, only in that the style is very much in opposition to Realism, but is forced to employ some of the techniques. Script Excerpts

“VLADIMIR: (hurt, coldly) Might one inquire where his Highness spent the night?”

ESTRAGON: In a ditch.

VLADIMIR: (admiringly) A ditch! Where?

ESTRAGON: (without gesture) Over there.” 1

“VLADIMIR: I felt lonely.

ESTRAGON: I had a dream.

VLADIMIR: Don't tell me!

ESTRAGON: I dreamt that—

VLADIMIR: DON'T TELL ME!” (2) “POZZO: I am impertinent. (He knocks out his pipe against the whip, gets up.) I must be getting on. Thank you for your society. (He reflects.) Unless I smoke another pipe before I go. What do you say? (They [Vladimir and Estragon] say nothing.) Oh I'm only a small smoker, a very small smoker, I'm not in the habit of smoking two pipes one on top of the other, it makes (hand to heart, sighing) my heart go pit-a-pat. (Silence.) It's the nicotine, one absorbs it in spite of one's precautions. (Sighs.) You know how it is. (Silence.) But perhaps you don't smoke? Yes? No? It's of no importance. (Silence.) But how am I to sit down now, without affectation, now that I have risen? Without appearing to –how shall I say– without appearing to falter. (To Vladimir.) I beg your pardon? (Silence.) Perhaps you didn't speak? (Silence.) It's of no importance. Let me see . . .He reflects.” (4) “Waiting for Godot”

If one was directing “Waiting for Godot” ...

– Create a lack of connection between characters

– Exaggerate vaudeville aspects

If possible, set it on a stage that is lower, closer to the audience

Exits and entrances are fluid and fast

Stage directions interchange characters– when Gogo stands, Didi sits, when Didi stands, Gogo sits. “The Maids”, “Inspector Hound”, etc.

At the beginning of the play, Estragon is seen removing his boots.
At the end, he is seen removing his boots again, representing the cyclical, existential nature of “Waiting for Godot” and Absurdist plays in general. Works Cited Title Page:
Theatre of the Absurd. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Theatre of the Absurd (accessed: October 04, 2012) Background Info:
Kasim, R. “Characteristics of Theatre of the Absurd.”(2010): xlix, xlviii.

Dace, Letitia S. The Theatre of the Absurd: Its Themes and Form. A.B. Sweet Briar. 1963. Accessed September, 2012.

Rahimipoor, Saeid, and Henrik Edoyan. “The Theme of Self and identity in the Theatre of the Absurd.” Journal of English and Literature, 3, no. 1 (Jan, 2012): 9-17.

Lighting Design:
Gillette, J. M. Designing with Light:An Introduction to Stage Lighting. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008 Characterization, Application:
Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press, 1954 Synopsis:
Act 1:
The two main characters, Estragon and Vladimir, are off the side of a country road in the evening. The discuss matters such as where they slept last night, religion, their purpose of being on the country road at that time, the true nature of the tree and other such nonsensical things that supply a deeper meaning. Pozzo, a rich man, and Lucky, a man with a rope around his neck and carrying much of what can be assumed Pozzo's things, enter and begin to discuss the mythical figure Godot. Pozzo taunts Lucky into giving a long winded speech. They both exit. Then a boy, who works for Godot as a shepherd, enters. They discuss things with the boy and then tell the boy to give Godot a message. The boy exits. The lighting changes drastically and Estragon and Vladimir discuss the nature of the road and tomorrow.

Act 2:
Much the same ast the first act occurs, the order is very similar with only minor differences. The two main characters discuss on an evening lit road various aspects of their world, or the world at large. Pozzo and Lucky enter again, this time Pozzo is blind and ragged, Lucky is equally laden but this time with a shorter rope around his neck. Lucky never has a long speech. Both exit. The boy enters again only this time he seems to not remember both Vladimir and Estragon. The boy comes bearing a message from Godot, discusses the boy's life and Mr. Godot with Vladimir and Estragon. Vladimir tells the boy to have the message of remembering him and springs at him with anger. The boy exits. Vladimir and Estragon contemplate suicide, curtain closes with them making a decision to go. Videos
"Scenes from Waiting for Godot at the Mark Taper Forum,” YouTube video, 3:31, posted by "CTGLA," Mar 21, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFlPMduSPgE.

“Samuel Beckett - Waiting for Godot Act 1 (Part 7) ,” YouTube video, 9:10, posted by "scottl82," Jan 18, 2010, (accessed Oct 4, 2012).
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