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Absurdism

Home | How did absurdism develop? | How did absurdism end? | How did absurdism influence theatre that followed? | Biography of an absurdist playwright | Biography of an absurdist actor | "Waiting for Godot" | culture during the absurdism time period | How is absurdism expressed in other arts? | 5 things you should know about absurdism | Personal Response | Works Cited | How did absurdism begin?

How did absurdism begin?

Absurdism in theatre began in the early 1900's, mainly influenced by the playwrights Strindberg and Samuel Beckett.  The theatre of the absurd is said to have began in Paris, France.  Many theatre historians and critics label Alfred Jarry's French play, "Ubu Roi" as the earliest example of theatre of the absurd.  Absurdism is an idea commonly associated with existentilalism.  This experimental movement developed from the Dada movement in Surrealism.  The playwrights grouped under the label of the absurd convey  rely heavily on poetic metaphor as a means of projecting outward their innermost states of mind.  The images of the theatre of the absurd assume the quality of fantasy, dream, and nightmare; they do not portray the outward appearance of reality as the playwright's emotional perception of an inner reality.

Writers outside France who show the influence of the theater of the absurd include Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard in England, Gunter Grass and Peter Weiss in Germany, Edward Albee, Israel Horovitz, and Sam Shepard in the United States, and the Czech playwright, Vaclav Havel, and Martin Esslin

People were skeptical at first because absurdism seemed morbid in a way.  It was a lot different than plays that have been performed in the past.  However, it did not take the public long to warm up to the idea of using imagination in theatre.  Actually, absurdism started to gather crowds because of the irrational content put into some of the plays.