Absurdism: Beyond the Origins

Created by Drama Teacher Academy

In most units that cover the Theatre of the Absurd, the number of playwrights addressed are few and the time period is limited. While it is certainly true that the era identified as “The Theatre of the Absurd” was a reaction to the distorted reality of life after World War II, there are many environments that create distorted realities and many playwrights who use those realities as catalysts for absurdist plays.

In this unit, we will start with a traditional look at the Theatre of the Absurd and then expand our exploration beyond its origins.

The overview lays out the lesson plan outline, materials provided, time management, and assessment overview for the unit.
1: Absurdism and Other Isms
In this lesson, students will define the different eras of the beginning to the middle of the 20th century and apply their knowledge in exercises.
2: The Theatre of the Absurd
In this lesson, students will be introduced to the traditionally studied playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd era.
3: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
In this lesson, students will move beyond the traditional origins of Theatre of the Absurd through two different playwrights: Vaclav Havel (Audience) and Issam Abdel-Masih Mahfouz (The Dictator), both of whom write about environments where power has created a distorted reality. Students will be introduced to these playwrights and then write their own version of a distorted reality.
4: Through the Lens of Women Writers
In this lesson, students will be introduced to Sheila Callaghan and Caryl Churchill, who bring their own lens to the absurd. Students will then write their own scenes using the same meme that inspired Sheila Callaghan to write her play Women Laughing Alone with Salad.
5: A World Which No Longer Makes Sense
In this lesson, students will be introduced to a Black writer who explores racism through the absurdist form: Adrienne Kennedy.
6: Unit Projects
Decide how students will demonstrate their knowledge of the unit. A variety of activities have been provided. You can choose to have all your students do the same activity, or allow students to choose from the provided activities to demonstrate their knowledge. Rubrics are provided.

Standards Addressed

Get instant access to this and everything else in the Drama Teacher Academy

© Copyright 2015-2024 Theatrefolk