The term Theatre of the Absurd was first used by Martin Esslin, a literary critic, who used it to connect Samuel Becket, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet and Arthur Adamov as the primary playwrights of the Absurd in his study from 1961. This dramatic movement developed in Paris during the 1950s and it declined in the mid 1960s.
These dramatists are chiefly concerned with expressing a sense of wonder, of incomprehension, and at times of despair, at the lack of cohesion that they find in the world. The Idea of the Absurd (in the sense which these writers incorporate into their writing) was first mentioned in Albert Camus’s essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus). According to Camus, the Absurd is the result of human desire for clarity and meaning in a world that offers none.
Works of the writers of the Theatre of the Absurd are characterized by -
* lack of logic
* unconventional dialogue
* rejection of conventional characterization and plot.
They all express the idea that human existence is essentially meaningless and that in this world true communication is impossible. Camus in his Le Mythe de Sisyphe “In the universe that is suddenly deprived of illusions and of light, man feels a stranger.
His is an irremediable exile …this divorce between man and his life, the actor and his
setting, truly constitutes the feeling of Absurdity”.
This very idea surfaces in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
A mixture of absurdity and reality, illusion and truth, farce and tragedy is condensed in Edward Albees first full length play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1962) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf demonstrates the Mid-20th century American panic towards the fall of human privilege, embedded within both Cold War rhetoric and the changing social climate of America. This is a play not so much about a discontented marriage as a disillusioned...