Difference between Theatre of the Absurd and existentialist philosophy?Is there much difference between existentialist philosophy (as in the ideas of Albert Camus for example) and the Theatre of...

Difference between Theatre of the Absurd and existentialist philosophy?

Is there much difference between existentialist philosophy (as in the ideas of Albert Camus for example) and the Theatre of the Absurd?

If so, what are the core differences between them?

Asked on by mjay25

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Existentialism, as a philosophy, allows for free-range thinking under the prospect that life may or may not have any purpose for living. This philosophy questions whether the constructs that we have built are worth following, and whether the ideas and philosophies that we follow are a realistic need to survive.

The theater of the absurd takes these notions to an extreme because of the need to illustrate "the point". Theater, as an art form, also tends to combine other elements such as realism and fantasy to fulfill the duties of entertaining an paying audience. This is an unfortunate reality, but it is reality nevertheless.

Therefore, existentialism will always allow for a number of diverse sub-constructs to surface as part of its philosophical tendency. The theater of the absurd is meant to show a few tenets of existentialism for the purpose of illustrating the point.

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

There are certainly differences. The most important difference would seem to be that Absurdist Theatre is a formally defined concept and existentialism is a rather wide-ranging body of thought commonly defined as a philosophy. 

Absurdist Theatre can explore and express existentialist ideas, but existentialism certainly cannot be defined as a formal, abstract mode of theatrical presentation, theatrical writing, and self-referential drama. 

(Existentialism is not necessarily characterized by self-reference as Absurdist Theatre often is.)

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