Absurdist Theatre: Using The Elements Of Drama

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Absurdist theatre has been allocated as my performance style, Absurdism first came about after the II World War that ended in 1945, as people endured the impact of WWII, many began to question the relevance of logic, communication, and life, as it seemed too difficult for playwrights to explain meaning, where the only logical answer was absurd itself. Contributing factors would have been, politics, the sexual revolution, the hippie movement, the surrogate movement and the desensitisation of death endured by innocents and soldiers alike in the Second World War. Playwrights such as Samuel Beckett who created ‘En attendant Godot’ in 1952, Jean Genet who created ‘Notre Dame Des Fleurs’ in 1943, and Eugene Ionesco who created the play ‘Le Nouveau Locataire’ in 1955, were the first few European playwriters who pioneered the absurdist genre. Martin Esslin wrote the book ‘The Theatre of the Absurd’ which was published in 1962, analyses how playwrights such as those above explored outside the walls of realism with their lack of logic and structure in their plays.’The Theatre of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy. It aims to shock its audience out of complatency’ is a sample quote by Martin Esslin. Theatre of the Absurd is still used in today’s era, it has become an integral part of the world of theatre. Absurdist theatre is still commonly taught in Drama Schools, Universities, and high schools, but was mostly a short live dramatist movement in a search for meaning.

For my practical performance, my group and I humanise inanimate objects for an absurdism technique. We use signs, costumes, colours, movement and music to help the audience identify our characters as certain objects such as a clumsy pencil or a graceful paintbrush. Despite wearing labels on our chests for identification, our performance uses movement and body language to mimic the idea of an object, a paintbrush will glide and twirl with grace along the centre stage, straight and speedy movements for a thin line pencil, then bulk and blockish strides for a rubber as they swing a sturdy leg in front of the other, two stiff arms pinned at the torso, the reason why we use movement, colour and music as an absurdist technique is because we wanted to create ‘beautiful tension’ in our performance. The use of eerie music, structured movements and colours on stage, in my opinion, would create an atmosphere of dark curiosity and apprehension within the eyes of our audience. Combining the elements of drama, I believe that focus, mood and atmosphere will enhance our use of music, movement and build the tension for our performance play, if our group is capable of keeping focus and composure when in character, then we will obviously be able to portray our message of absurdism in a more profession and structured manner. The technique of movement has given me a greater understanding of how crucial simple body language is in a performance, as it effectively builds the personality, thoughts and feelings of a character in drama, movement in absurdism can erupt an awkward, confusing, frightening, funny or curious response from the audience, movement allows characters to clash and mix, it can symbolise a stereotype, an emotion, an object, or a person in absurdist theatre, and I believe that will be very effective in our performance. We will also be using labels that say which character is which just in case, they will have the characters names drawn on the front and we will either wear them on our chests or just stick them on our clothes. We chose to use signs because our performance is mostly silent, none of our characters really specify who they are, our aim was to clarify and assist the audience’s understanding, the dramatic element of role & character helps correspond to the clarity in our performance, as our selected elements such as mood and atmosphere, focus, role and character all link together, as they all help in building our characters on stage without them really having to speak. Signs have helped my understanding of absurdist theatre, specifically because a sign in my selected performance style can say anything without needing it to have any meaning at all, examples could be, holding up a sign that has a single, random word or picture that has no relevance to the scene. It could be used for irony or humour. I believe that using signs as a drama technique can enhance the atmosphere and incite emotion like confusion, joy, sadness or shock just as well as any other technique. In conclusion, I am confident that the use of movement, colour, music, and signs in our performance will be a fun and unique experience for both the audience and the members in our drama group, I hope that we will be able to perform our assessment with the help of the drama techniques we have chosen for our act.

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