How is the Theatre of the Absurd a Post-Modern theatre?

How is the Theatre of the Absurd a Post-Modern theatre? The Theatre of the Absurd is considered a Post-Modern theatre because it emerged during the Post-Modern period and shared many of its characteristics, such as a rejection of traditional narratives, an emphasis on the fragmentation of reality, and a focus on the absurdity of existence. If you want to know the exact answer of this question then it is compulsory to read what Theatre of Absurd is? It will clear about the previous question.

What Theatre of Absurd is?

Theatre of Absurd is a Post-Modern theatre. Martin Esslin coined the term “The Theatre of the Absurd” in 1960. It’s a theatrical movement that started in France and spread around the world.

This theatre was established during World War II when the chaotic circumstances forced people to reflect on their absurd existence. Absurd playwrights wanted to expose the themes like emptiness, frustration, change, despair, and death rather than dealing with ideas. The absurd dramatists started to write about human existence as meaningless.

The absurd dramatists presented their characters while discussing the absurdity of existence and social alienation and the majority of characters in these plays suffer an unknown fear as a result of the war’s destruction. New theatrics have been utilized by absurd writers like Beckett, Pinter, Genet, etc. to express inconsistencies, agony, pain, suffering, and a sense of futility. (Laws)

What Theatre of Absurd is According to The Reader’s Directory of World Drama?

According to The Reader’s Directory of World Drama, the term “Absurd” refers to several European and American dramatists from the 1950s and early 1960s who were not part of any self-proclaimed trend, but who shared a feeling of philosophical agony at the absurdity of the human predicament.

  • While Postmodernity is the state or situation of humanity that is considered to exist after modernity. It is a historical state that denotes the grounds for modernity’s demise.
  • The underlying characteristics of postmodernism may be seen in the work of artists like Jorge Luis Borges in the 1940s. So, most scholars agreed that postmodernism began competing with modernism in the late 1950s and eventually surpassed it in the 1960s. (Mane 391)

How is the Theatre of the Absurd a Post-Modern theatre?

The transformation of Modernism into Postmodernism can be traced back to the shifting characteristics of innovating languages in literature like in the case of absurdism in drama and theatre and the plastic arts such as Pop Art, Minimal, and Conceptual Art in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

  • They share some fundamental beliefs that they all tend to dismiss art’s autonomy, refusing to understand the discontinuity between art and life practice as well as the unique nature of creative production and reception.
  • Absurdism pervades postmodern art. Theatre of the Absurd is a true representation of artistic references to the second-half era of the 20th century from the 1940s to the 1970s and this era was commonly referred to as the Postmodern era. So, they both have a strong relationship between them or it could be assumed that they are the same.
  • Early Postmodern theatre is also considered “the theatre of the absurd,” because it depicts the absurdity of life that does not always make sense or the absurdity of art that strives to make sense, although subsequent works appear to be more focused on creating narratives like puzzles.
  • Art, rather than mimicking, seeks to represent reality. Postmodern art actually wanted to reevaluate those traditions and values that were considered the true representation of humans, society, politics, religion, culture, arts, and the world by the broad use of artistic codes and particular language systems.
  • Like modernist theatre, absurdism draws off general tiredness and disenchantment with the world’s order and meaning, but its lack of plotlines and frequently incomprehensible language also places it towards the start of the postmodern movement.
  • Post-dramatic theatre raised several questions about the absurdity like “If everything is pointless, how do we make the audience feel that?” So, the primary thesis of absurd playwrights is that human life lacks purpose and consistency and hence appears inherently chaotic. As a result, humans have no meaningful means of communication.
  • Waiting for Godot marked the start of a theatrical movement that actually gives insights into the postmodern world even outside of the vernacular of theatre. Samuel Beckett and other early Absurdist writers’ ideas are still important in the postmodern era.
  • The goal of absurd theatre is to provide a true representation of life through a medium that indicates a wide variety of ridiculousness. It displays different facets of absurdity, such as meaninglessness, nonsensicality, and lack of communication among others. The ridiculous plays, like realistic plays, lack a rationally constructed storyline.

Postmodern Theatre Rejects the Idea of make-believe

Postmodern theatre rejects the idea of make-believe and it views theatrical performance as a real-life event in which the audience takes part. Actors and situations are important in conventional theatre, but absurd dramatists place greater emphasis on the circumstance. Characters and circumstances are seen as minor considerations. The absurd theatre does not appear to be ideological in any way. It is simply the theatre of a situation as opposed to the theatre of events in chronological order.

  • Most dramatists in the mid-twentieth century focused on issues relating to bourgeois society.
  • The middle and lower classes of society were ignored. As a result, the poor and middle classes’ lives and issues were rarely shown on stage. It wasn’t a reflection of their lives, according to them.
  • A new set of dramatists preferred to depict the lower strata of society in order to give a face to the working-class audience. As a result, after 1950, the theatre was no longer the exclusive domain of a select few. The characters were drawn from the average man. (Mane 393)
  • For absurd writers, life is like a house constructed of glass, where the shadows of reality become invisibly jumbled up and confound the audience. For them, reality seems hazy and ludicrous, similar to dreams. All absurd playwrights want to know why man, self-centered and estranged, is unable to relate with others. As a result, Theatre of the Absurd established itself as a new dimension to traditional play. It affected the younger generation of authors and served as a watershed moment in modern theatre.

The Postmodern World’s Political And Social Setting

Culture, society, and history are all intertwined within the postmodern theatre. The postmodern world’s political and social setting lends itself to study through the examination of the existence of absurdity.

As a result, the theatre of the absurd emerged as one of the most prominent and influential dramatic movements in world literature. Several playwrights from throughout the world participated in various ways. Their major aim appears to be to represent the futility of modern man’s life as a result of the changing worldwide scene.


As we have discussed all about How is the Theatre of the Absurd a Post-Modern theatre? In conclusion, the Theatre of the Absurd is a Post-Modern theatre because of its rejection of traditional forms and its focus on the fragmented and absurd nature of existence. It emerged during the Post-Modern period and shares many of its characteristics, making it an important movement in the development of Post-Modern theatre. By challenging traditional ideas of narrative and character, the Theatre of the Absurd paved the way for new forms of theatre and continues to influence contemporary theatre today.

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