life for theatre---theatre for life

Martin Esslin, the man who gave us the phrase, "The Theater of the Absurd," and essentially legitimized for a conservative culture some of today'most iconic playwrights, died in London this past February, it was reported today.

In his book, he linked Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov and Eugène Ionesco with younger playwrights like Harold Pinter, Edward Albee and Fernando Arrabal at a time — 1961 — when they were regarded as artistic outsiders. Eventually, with the encouragement of Mr. Esslin and others, they were accepted as theatrical innovators.
But it may be his words in a book of a generation later that really position the validity of all theatre, in all societies and in all times.
In "The Field of Drama" (Methuen, 1987), he reached out to analyze the semiotics of drama in movies and television as well as theater. In all its forms, he said, "drama provides some of the principal role models by which individuals form their identity and ideals, sets patterns of communal behavior, forms values and aspirations and has become part of the collective fantasy life of the masses."

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Published on June 5, 2002 11:39 AM.

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