Holding Talks: Ola Rotimi and the Theatre of the Absurd
The Theatre of the Absurd, an avant-garde experiment in the theatrical enterprise, was devised in the 1950s and early 1960s by radical European and American dramatists to express their frustrations at the waste and hopelessness of human existence, particularly after the First and the Second World Wars. Operating from philosophical and metaphysical levels, Absurd dramatists artistically communicate non-realistic unconventional images that are designed to express the incomprehensible complex world that human beings are condemned to live in. The aesthetics of this theatre abandon logical flow of actions; the plays are plotless, characters lack individuality, language used by the characters is sheer “gibberish,” and often the plays contain no believable stories. Following the footsteps of the Absurd playwrights, Rotimi, an African playwright has constructed an experimental play, Holding Talks, which he labels “Absurd.” This paper is a critique of this experiment. The paper examines the concept of the Absurd in the African vis-à-vis the Nigerian world-view. The play (Holding Talks) is critically evaluated with the intention of determining its relevance to African theatrical praxis and its effect on the developing Nigerian audiences. The paper concludes that African dramatists should be cautious in their theatrical experiments in order not to render the theatre “deadly.”
Keywords: theatre of the absurd, Ola Rotimi, Holding Talks, experimental theatre, anti-realism, audience.
MARANG Vol. 18 2008 pp.153-160