'Theatre of the absurd' was never so relevant

'Theatre of the absurd' was never so relevant

It is absurd if fans of theatre in the City feel that the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’, a genre practised in the 50s has no space today. ‘The Leader /Krapp’s Last Tape’, directed by Michael Joseph and presented by members of ‘Gnatak’ saw an excited audience at Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield. The plays were performed as part of the ‘Deccan Herald Theatre Festival’.

The play opened with ‘The Leader’, originally written by Eugene Ionesco, with a group of people awaiting in awe to watch their leader. One of the members from the group describes a few mundane activities which the leader resorts to and excites them. It is interspersed with events of the day amidst all the commotion and excitement. Finally, the leader approaches, which is a headless mannequin and the announcer says that the leader doesn’t need a head since he is a genius. The play shows its relevance today – by subtly stating how everyone searches for a leader and someone in the centre of power, often forgetting their own capacities of becoming a leader themselves.

 It moved on to Krapp’s last tape, a Samuel Beckett classic, which revolves around Krapp, writer, who records his thoughts and views of his life on audio tape every year, since he was 24. The recordings give us an insight into his personality as one learns about various incidents in his life. Through the play, one can see the transformation his personality through time and age.

Lights on stage suggest Krapp’s solipsism. As the stage is in darkness, Krapp relives his memory through his audio tapes. The audience slowly understand that Krapp is trapped in his skull, as he tries to unravel his life. The incongruity of life is seen in contrast between the technologically perfect world and Krapp’s persona. The attitude of listening that was shown on stage was an intriguing aspect  - as Krapp starts listening, censoring, editing and again going back to his own life.

Elements such as light, sound, live music acts and props were equally given importance in pushing the plot forward and telling the story, as were the actors’ emotions and subtle expressions on stage to show the mundaneness in day’s cycles. True to absurd theatre, both scenes depicted the sheer mundaneness and drudgery of human existence. The plots show that life has neither meaning nor purpose and logical arguments give way to irrational thought.

Ishani says, “In today’s busy and consumerist rat race, I think absurd theatre has more space than ever. It shows how we are so caught up in life and material wealth that we often forget that everything doesn’t always work with logic and is an illusion. The acting was fantastic as they portrayed the message effectively.”
DH News Service

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