The Absurd Guide To Not Looking Absurd When Having an Absurd Post-Show Lobby Discussion About an Absurd Play

Absurd Dudes

by Danielle Szabo

The dictionary definition of “absurd” (provided by Merriam-Webster) is “ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous” and “having no rational or orderly relationship to human life.” If something is labeled absurd, it is because it would be ridiculous, not actually worth our time.

Therefore, how does one sit in a comfortable seat, read the program, watch the house lights go down, and prepare for everything he or she ever learned about the “well-made,” straightforward narrative to be thrown out the window? How does one sit calmly and politely while dealing with the irrational and disorderly?

In theory, an absurd play is not absurd at all, of course. It is an allegory, an extended metaphor, and of direct relation to the human experience. So I have attempted to prepare a guide for this very human experience:

  1. CONTEXT: Research the context of the play. A simple Google search will suffice. Or, perhaps the dramaturg has provided some materials for you. Read the program notes. All absurd playwrights are coming from the context of their own experience, and that has added a huge layer to the play.
  2. REPETITION: Look for repetition.
  3. DON’T OVERTHINK IT: Don’t try too hard to pick out meaning in the moment. Let interpretation and meaning come to you – whether it be during intermission, a talk-back, or next month in the shower.
  4. REPETITION: Look for repetition.
  5. BE IN THE MOMENT: Because you’re not looking for meaning, just enjoy the plot in the moment. Laugh, cry, look for repetition.
  6. CHECK YOUR SOURCES: Don’t go to Sparknotes before or after the play. Unless you have to travel home and take a high school quiz. Then, I feel ya. Pick up a book like Theatre Theory Theatre or another credible drama studies book. Both The Theatre School Script Library and the John T. Richardson library are great resources.
  7. BE INSPIRED: Most importantly, remember that your interpretations are always valid. If the play inspires you to help your community or lead a protest, that’s worth talking about. If the play inspires you to crawl into your bed and never come out because of the seemingly pointlessness of everything, that’s worth talking about. If you didn’t “get it” and you think it’s worthless, that’s worth talking about.

Both The Memo, directed by Andrew Peters and Metamorphosis, directed by Kelvin Wong, running from February 6th to February 15th are absurd plays.

Danielle Szabo served as the dramaturg for The Memo.

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One response to “The Absurd Guide To Not Looking Absurd When Having an Absurd Post-Show Lobby Discussion About an Absurd Play

  1. We prefer to look absurd always. Whether we’re writing a post, digging a mud bathtub behind the library, searching for our missing crabsheep, dropping our ungrateful kids off at school at titanium 90, or digging into a fresh boiled tusk stump. Absurdface is the only demeanor for us!

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