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Theatre of the Absurd

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Theatre of the Absurd refers to particular plays written by a number of European and American playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work. The term was coined by the critic Martin Esslin[?], who made it the title of a 1962 book on the subject. Esslin saw the work of these playwrights as giving artistic articulation to Albert Camus' philosophical concept of life as inherently absurd.

The Theatre of the Absurd is typified by apparently meaningless plots, repetitive dialogue and dramatic non sequiturs, which together often create a dream-like mood.

Among the major playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd are Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Eugene Ionesco, Tom Stoppard, Arthur Adamov and Harold Pinter.

Further reading

  • Martin Esslin, The Theatre of the Absurd (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1962)



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