1. ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous having no rational or orderly relationship to human life

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1. ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous

2. having no rational or orderly relationship to human life : meaningless
“The Theatre of the Absurd can be seen as the reflection of what seems to be the attitude most genuinely representative of our own time. The hallmark of this attitude is its sense that the certitudes and unshakable basic assumptions of former ages have been swept away, that they have been tested and found wanting, that they have been discredited as cheap and somewhat childish illusions.” --Martin Esslin, Theater of the Absurd
“The Theatre of the Absurd…aims to shock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation as these writers see it. But the challenge behind this message is anything but one of despair. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely because there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone in a meaningless world. The shedding of easy solutions, of comforting illusions, may be painful, but it leaves behind it a sense of freedom and relief. And that is why, in the last resort, the Theatre of the Absurd does not provoke tears of despair but the laughter of liberation.” --Martin Esslin, Absurd Drama
Some common characteristics of Theater of the Absurd:

  • relativity of truth

  • futility

  • humanity’s vain struggle against fate

  • amorality/unfairness

  • language as an ambiguous and unreliable form of communication

  • use of small talk and non-sequiturs

  • lack of plot

  • lack of characterization

  • destruction

  • nightmarish or dream-like quality

  • no separation between comic and tragic

View three of Beckett’s shorter productions Breath, Not I, and Come and Go on YouTube (links posted on homework website) and jot down your initial impressions for each clip. What characteristics of Theater of the Absurd do these performances have? What else can you infer about the genre based on your viewing?

Film Project (100 homework points):

Due Friday, June 8th
You may work alone or in groups of no more than three to film your own drama illustrating the characteristics of Theater of the Absurd. Your film must be brought in on a disc or flash drive and be in a viewable format. Your film must include dialogue. In addition, you will submit a statement of intent (2-3 pages) that explains your directorial choices and how they achieve your intended purpose. Minimum time requirement: 4 minutes

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