Only exceptionally rational men can afford to be absurd.
Happy heart-on-your-sleeve day.
I came of age as an actor at the same time the Theatre of the Absurd. Although the movement began at the end of the Second World War, it didn't hit the major stages of the world until the late 50s and 60s. The major "absurdist" writers who crossed my path then were Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Fernando Arabal and Herold Pinter. There are many others.
The term "Theatre of the Absurd" was pasted on them by a writer named Martin Esslin, a Hungarian/American author who wrote a book with that title. The "absurdist" writing arose out of an existential philosophy, notably that of Albert Camus, that looked at what appeared to be a senseless, hopeless life and tried to explain it, or at least find a place in it. And as with any important revolutionary movement in art, there has been more criticism written about it than there are plays.
The plays are a tearing apart of situations, places, language, characters and relationships, but that doesn't make them depressing or nihilistic. In fact many of the plays have almost a vaudevillian quality to them. For us in the theatre they were a joy to find and experience simply because "common sense," the rules of human behavior and rituals of conduct were thrown out. Characters did not behave in a rational way, nor was their world a rational environment. But throughout them there was the intellect working to redefine existence and establish new myths in order to make life comfortable in an uncomfortable, atom bomb world.
The great masterpiece of the time is Sameul Beckett's play "Waiting For Godot" which appeared on Broadway with Bert Lahr and E. G. Marshall. Audiences and critics didn't understand it. It was also performed at San Quentin prison. The prisoners understood it completely. Someone suggested that maybe the New York drama critics should spend some time in prison, which might not be a bad idea on several levels.
I had the great pleasure of performing one of the roles in "Godot" a few years ago and even at that late date people were still unable to grasp what the play was about: it has no boy-meets-girl, no detective solving a crime, no domestic drama. It's a play in which nothing happens but everything happens. To understand it one needs a sense of humor, a sense of the absurd..
Last Thanksgiving evening I was here alone with a stove/oven that didn't work, I had a stack of canned food to eat and, behold, my can opener broke. My Thanksgiving dinner was bread, peanut butter and bananas. That was theatre of the absurd, and if you don't think that was funny you've got no sense of humor.
The Vagabond Journeys
Someone is thinking good thoughts about you right now. Think back.