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 Ling 131: Language & Style

 Topic 13 - Shared knowledge and absurdist drama (Session B) skip topic navigation

Topic Contents
Absurdist drama
Zoo Story
Getting to know Applicant
Assumptions in Applicant
Turn-taking in Applicant
Topic 13 "tool" summary
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Absurdist Drama

In this session we will look at a couple of examples from absurdist texts. Absurdist drama typically involves very big clashes between the audience and the characters on stage in terms of the assumptions they hold. It is a kind of deviation writ very large, as it were. The clash in assumptions between the world of the characters and the world of the audience is usually so dramatic that what we are presented with seems absurd – hence the term ‘absurdism’. Big clashes in assumptions between characters and audience also turn up a lot in situation comedies, and so, not surprisingly, much absurdist drama has a comic element, as we will see in both of the examples we will consider in this session. Sometimes, though, the absurdism correlates with feelings of extreme threat.

Next in this session we will look at an extract from the beginning of Zoo Story by the American playwright, Edward Albee. Then we will examine an early sketch by the British playwright Harold Pinter, who is well-known for his absurdist drama (though he has written plenty of non-absurdist plays too). The sketch is called Applicant.

Because Applicant is the last text we will look at in the drama section of the course, we will also use it as an opportunity for a ‘round-up’ analysis, looking at the sketch using all the different forms of analysis we have used in the drama section of the course.


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