theatre of the Absurd

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An anti-political form of theatre that emerged in Europe in the 1950s, largely as a rejection of Bertolt Brecht's Epic Theatre. Inspired by Alfred Jarry's *'pataphysics, Franz Kafka's bleak stories, Dada, and Surrealism, the Theatre of the Absurd is nihilist in its outlook. In this respect, it is congruent with Absurdism's solipsistic view of the world. It is typified by clever language play, which pushes language to the point of non-meaning and nonsense, thereby exposing language's capacity to betray its users. There was no coherent group of practitioners who identified themselves with this garve, but the term is generally applied to the following directors and playwrights: Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Harold Pinter.

Further Reading:

M. Esslin The Theatre of the Absurd (1968).

Subjects: Theatre — Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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