Samuel Beckett and the Theatre of the Absurd

“Absurd Drama”, not a regular “movement”.The phrase “Absurd Drama” or “The Theatre of the Absurd” gained currency as a result of Martin Esslin’s book entitled The Theatre of the Absurd published in 1961. Esslin points out that there is no such thing as a regular “movement” of Absurd dramatists; the term is useful as “a device to make certain fundamental traits which seem to be present in the works of a number of dramatists accessible to discussion by tracing features they have in common”. Esselin’s book deals with a group of plays which incorporate certain beliefs and use certain methods and which, briefly and as a kind of intellectual short-hand, we call Absurd Drama.

Successful in spite of the violation of all dramatic conventions.
The most surprising thing about plays of this group is that in spite of their breaking of the rules they are successful. Esslin says:
1. “If a good play must have a cleverly constructed story, these have no story or plot to speak of;
2. If a good play is judged by subtlety of characterization and motivation, these are often without recognizable characters and present the audience with almost mechanical puppets;
3. If a good play has to have a fully explained theme, which is neatly exposed and finally solved, these often have neither a beginning nor an end;
4. If a good play is to hold the mirror up to nature and portray the manners and mannerisms of the age in finely observed sketches, these seem often to be reflections of dreams and nightmares;
5. If a good play relies on witty repartee and pointed dialogue, these often consist of incoherent babblings.”


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