The Many Guises of the Absurd- Week 3 notes

At the start of the lesson which I found very helpful was we had a recap of the concepts of the Existentialist movement which I had previously had difficulty understanding but the more I go over it the better I can understand it.

This lesson we had a history lesson on where existentialism came from. Existentialism and the notion of the absurd is about the human condition. Nothing is more absurd than war.It is argued that Existentialism is born of the despair and desolation of a post war society, that the conflict, loss of life, and the invention of the atomic bomb questioned the fundamental belief that people are innately good.

Theatre of the Absurd, the Term coined by Martin Esslin, in an essay of
the same name in 1960. Esslin groups together authors & playwrights
with similar themes and literary devices. The Book entitled ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ was published by Esslin in 1962. The theatre of the absurd was said to be influenced by Music hall performance, Vaudeville and Slapstick as well as Existentialism and The Absurd.

We looked at videos from Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, who are well known for their slapstick comedy. These are things we can relate to it in some way and is universal because they have engagement in the same world which we do.

The theatre of the absurd goes against this and creates situations we are not familiar with and as we don’t understand it we brand it as absurd. Key Characteristics of Absurdist Plays and Dramas are the  language tends to be fragmented and dialogue includes pauses, cliches, wordplay and ‘double entendres’. Rational, discursive thoughts abandoned in favor of unfinished conversation and absurd conversational directions. Plot lines tend to be illogical or non-existent and there is rarely a coherent end to the story, where there is an ending it is usually unsatisfactory. Authors intend to puzzle or disturb the audience, ideally causing them to question existence and it’s meaning, so previous theatre conventions are liberately flouted. Plots, conversations and storylines tend to be full of extremes and contradictions. The tragic and the comic are dealt with in equal measure, this is a way to explore and interrogate the human
condition or ask what it is to Be.

I found it interesting to see the history of existentialism and how the movement come along after the depression of war. This is helpful in understanding the theories of the concepts.

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