What features of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot question theatrical conventions?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Samuel Beckett's play, Waiting for Godot, violates traditional theatrical conventions in several ways. First, it has no realistic setting, but only an abstract tree on an otherwise empty stage. It has no plot. The story doesn't progress and every day is a repeat of an earlier one -- Godot never will arrive. The dialogue is not realistic, and in the case of Lucky's "thinking" is incoherent. The characters are outside of time, place and history. Unlike in convention drama, we do not get a sense of teh characters having motivations -- or rather, in the play, everything is so absurd that actions are done out of ossified habit rather than purpose, because the normal causal relations underlying purpose have frayed.

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iandavidclark3 | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Though it is a landmark theatrical experience, nothing much really "happens" in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. The play includes a lot of talking, interacting pairs of characters, and references to God, suicide, and more, and yet little (if anything at all) is actually accomplished by the time the curtain falls. Thus, the play rebels against theatrical traditions by eschewing plot, meaningful character development, and other realistic context. Instead, the play meditates on the nature of the human condition, ultimately positing that humanity's attempt to wrestle "meaning" out of life might be misguided. As such, though the lack of theatrical convention in the play might be initially jarring, it ultimately serves an important purpose. Just as the play questions the traditions that give theatrical productions meaning, it also questions the traditions and conventions that have historically grounded humanity in any definition of meaning.

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