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Title: Absurd questions, ethical responses? : the relevance of the plays of Pirandello, Camus, and Ionesco in twenty-first century France
Author: Cassidy, Caitriona Rois
ISNI:       0000 0004 8498 7577
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis sets out to examine the contemporary relevance of absurd theatre in France, focusing on the work of Luigi Pirandello, Albert Camus, and Eugène Ionesco. These three authors share a preoccupation with how to create meaning in a world in which it is lacking. For Absurdists, the lack of pre-existing values does not mean that anything is permitted, nor that action is unnecessary, but rather that every person has a responsibility to fully consider the impact their action or lack thereof can have on others. Plays by Pirandello, Camus and Ionesco ask questions without offering concrete solutions, thereby forcing their audience members to interrogate their own relationship with the other. To determine the relevance of absurd theatre in twenty-first-century France, I undertake readings of theatrical texts by Pirandello, Camus and Ionesco which are informed by recent productions of their plays. To achieve this, I make use of details from programmes, press and educational packs made available by theatres, media interviews and reviews of the productions as well as DVD and archive footage of performances. The introduction focuses on why the absurd is a useful means to interrogate the interaction between the individual and society, and why the theatre is a particularly useful means to examine this relationship. Subsequently, I discuss each author in separate chapters, focusing on plays which have been staged in the twenty-first century and how they relate to contemporary debates. Chapter One will discuss how Pirandello responds to the absurd by exploring the possibility of self-creation, and the importance of avoiding being defined by others - which is suffered especially by Pirandello's female characters. Chapter Two focuses on Camus's exploration of the impact that our actions can have on the other, and whether contemporary fears about security and terror can lead to the abdication of our duty to consider the other. Chapter Three examines Ionesco's explorations of whether it is possible to maintain individuality at the same time as existing within a society, and how he presents the importance of avoiding conformity. Finally, the conclusion will deal with the potential consequences of the ideas raised in the plays for contemporary audiences. The productions discussed in this thesis above provide an overview of absurd theatre in twenty-first-century France. By using details from their production and reception to inform my reading of plays by Pirandello, Camus, and Ionesco, as well as suggesting other ways in which their theatrical work can serve as a tool to interrogate contemporary concerns, I aim to contribute to scholarship on the place of the absurd in the twenty-first century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: PB Modern European Languages