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DRAMA: Modernism to Post-Modernism


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The most popular and influential nonrealistic genre of the 20th century was absurdism. Absurdist dramatists saw, in the words of the Romanian-French playwright Eugène Ionesco, "man as lost in the world, all his actions become senseless, absurd, useless. Absurdist drama tends to eliminate much of the cause-and-effect relationship among incidents, reduce language to a game and minimise its communicative power, reduce characters to archetypes, make place nonspecific, and view the world as alienating and incomprehensible. Absurdism was at its peak in the 1950s, but continued to influence drama through the 1970s.

The most famous Absurdist playwright was Samuel Beckett. Beckett wrote, novels, short stories and scripts for radio and film. However, he was most famous for his plays and we studied varous Beckett plays in class for our performance.

Beckett had a very didtinct style and his stage directions were very important to the style of his work. He used a minimalistic approach to most of his plays to illustrate the nihilistic feel of the story. He used tragic comedy to illustrate the sad and, often, futile feel of the human condition. his works invoke questions such as "why are we here?" and "what is the point of it all?" These questions are invoked because many of his plays, including Godot had no resolution at the end.

'Waiting For Godot' is one of his most famous works and was the text we studied in the most detail. No one knows who Godot is, but the characters in the play are waiting for him to make their lives have some meaning and to make everything alright. However, Godot never arrives and the play reaches no finality and the audience is left feeling like nothing was acheived, regardless of the character's efforts. It is quite disheartening to watch.

Home | Symbolism | Dada | Epic Theatre | Absurdism | Intertextuality | Surrealism | Feminism

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Jessica Lane,
Modern Drama B Assignment