Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Absurdism, Comedy of Menace, and "The Birthday Party!"

   "The Birthday Party," opens in just three short days! We know you all are just bursting with excitement over this show! Check out more about our playwright and this specific style below!
   Theater of the absurd, or absurdism, is a term created by theatre critic Martin Esslin. This term is used to describe a set of plays that became popular during the 1950's and 1960's. Esslin created this idea based on Albert Camus' concept of the human condition which states, "humanity had to resign itself to recognizing that a fully satisfying rational explanation of the universe was beyond its reach; in that sense, the world must ultimately be seen as absurd." Basically, he believed that life had no inherent meaning and Esslin believed that these plays reflected that. Absurdist plays typically share several characteristics such as nonsense dialogue, repeptitive or meaningless movement, and non-realistic or impossible plots. In abusrdism there is a distrust of language as a means of communication. Absurdism distorts, parodies and ridicules conventionalized speech, slogans, and technical jargon to break it down and make people aware of the possibility of going beyond common speech patterns to communicate more authentically. 

   Martin Esslin classified four playwrights as leaders in this movement, Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Arthur Adamov, and Jean Genet. Later, Esslin included Harold Pinter in this category too!  
   Harold Pinter was born in east London, and considered to be one of the most influential modern British playwrights. His work even inspired the descriptive term, "pinteresque." Although, Mr. Pinter himself disliked the term and thought it was meaningless. He wrote 29 plays, "The Birthday Party," being the second one.    
   "The Birthday Party," is written in the style of Comedy of Menace. This immediately brings up mixed feelings. Comedy is supposed to be funny right? And menace implies a threat right? How can funny and threatening possibly exist in the same situation? Well guess what; it does! It often happens when characters use comedy in a threatening situation, such as cracking a joke while oiling a revolver, HILARIOUS right?! This contradiction is often used to change the audience's view of a certain character, I mean I wouldn't trust someone joking around while cleaning a gun...would you?!
   Come see this menacingly, hilarious style in action THIS WEEKEND at "The Birthday Party!"

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