Fifty years after the publication of Martin Esslin's The Theatre of the Absurd, which suggests that "absurd" plays purport the meaninglessness of life, Michael Y. Bennett's Reassessing the Theatre of the Absurd is a timely reassessment of one of the most important theatre "movements" of the twentieth century. Bennett argues that these "absurd" plays are, instead, ethical texts that suggest how life can be made meaningful. Analyzing the works of five major playwrights/writers of the 1950s (including three winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature), Bennett's work challenges fifty years of scholarship though his upbeat and hopeful readings.
Michael Y. Bennett is Assistant Professor of English in Drama at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, USA. He is the author of Words, Space, and the Audience (2012), Narrating the Past through Theatre (2012), and The Cambridge Introduction to the Absurd (2014); the editor of Refiguring Oscar Wilde's Salome (2011); and the co-editor of Eugene O'Neill's One-Act Plays: New Critical Perspectives (2012).
Introduction: Reassessing the Theatre of the Absurd
1. The Parable of Estagon's Struggle with the Boot in Waiting for Godot
2. The Pinteresque Oedipal Household: The Interrogation Scene(s) in The Birthday Party
3. The Parable of the White Clown: The Use of Ritual in Jean Genet's The Blacks: A Clown Show
4. Berenger, The Sisyphean Hero
Conclusion: Theorizing a "Female Absurd" in Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart as a Means of Reassessing the Theatre of the AbsurdAddendum #1: Defining the Parable
Addendum #2: Parables in Drama