Theatre of the Absurd

a_TOTA_06For most people, going to the theatre is a pleasant, culturally enlightening and stimulating experience. The majority of modern theatres are salubrious environments with comfortable seats, pleasant ambiances, and places where theatrical devotees can avail of food and beverages. People who attend the theatre are looking to be entertained and with this in mind, they take their seats comfortable in the knowledge that an entertaining night awaits them at their favourite theatre.

However, followers of theatre of the Absurd, encounter a vastly different theatrical experience from other theatre aficionados. Innovative playwrights developed absurdist theatre in the 1950s in show houses across mainland Europe with France being the foremost place of origin for the new theatrical form. Theatre of the Absurd is concerned with depictions of the human condition and in most cases; it depicts it as being meaningless. Characters appear to be lost with their lives have no sense of purpose or direction. Important theatrical devices such as time, place, language and identity break down in Absurdist theatre. In staging absurdist plays, directors use minimal staging and refuse to give their plays a meaningful plot. Babbling and incoherent dialogue characterises absurdist plays. Typically, plays of this type revolve around dreams and in many cases the characters experience nightmares of terrifying nature.

Samuel Beckett is perhaps the most well know originator of theatre of the Absurd. His play Waiting for Godot is a prime example of an absurdist play, which Beckett aired at the Theatre de Babylone, in Paris 1953. The play centres mainly on two characters Vladimir and Estragon and Beckett’s play utilises the aforementioned features of absurdist theatre such as lack of plot, timeline, place and language. Overall, there is minimal moment in the play and the primary characters Vladimir and Estragon appear to be stuck in a physical, emotional and psychological time loop. Most importantly, Beckett’s plays highlights the meaningless of life and the human condition in the wider context of international warfare, corrupt governments, consumers driven societies, dishonest societal institutions and intrusive corporate companies.

1311984754_740215_0000000000_noticia_normalTheatre of the Absurd distorts and unsettles the viewer. In the absence of recognised theatrical devices, strange events on stage unnerve the audience, as they do not know what is coming next or how to react to what the actors are doing. For Beckett, this is the exact reaction, which he wanted Waiting for Godot to create. He did not want to produce a visually pleasing and rounded realist play. Rather, Beckett wanted to jolt theatrical devotees out of their everyday lives and experiences in order to force them to confront the negative aspects of the human condition, the disturbing elements of contemporary society and the dehumanising nature of corporate businesses.

Attending an absurdist play such as Waiting for Godot is certainly a unique experience that will leave a lasting impression on the viewer. Therefore, the next time you are considering a pleasant evening at the local theatre, instead of going to a mainstream play that gives you a recognised theatrical structure, why not go to an absurdist play. Such plays challenges you in so many ways while forcing you to engage in an active manner with the material that you are witnessing.

~Pádraig O’ Loingsigh

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Dear Writers

thank you note

Dear Writers,

Thank you to everyone who submitted to the 2015 edition of The Ogham Stone! The poems, stories and pieces are in and are currently being read by our editorial team.

We hope to be in contact with all those who submitted to our magazine in due time.

Thank you once again and we will be in touch soon!

Sincerely,

The Ogham Stone Team

“How am I going to read this?”

ulysses[1]The words James Joyce and Ulysses typically fill most readers with a sense of dread and trepidation. Ulysses has gained an almost mythical status with most critics agreeing that it is one of the foremost literary texts in the English language. They base this lofty argument on the innovative way in which Joyce constructs his text. In addition, the standard of language, which Joyce uses throughout the book, sets it apart from most text. Despite a relatively simplistic plot line, Joyce masterfully constructs an interweaving text that highlights his subjects in new and innovative ways. In addition, Joyce inserts a myriad of textual references, which encompass centuries of various texts making it a truly multi-contextual and internationally timeless work. Apparently, James Joyce once said that his multitude of textual reference gave it a riddle like quality that would take critics centuries to unravel thus ensuring his immortality.

In many cases, Ulysses may seem daunting to college students whom their lectures require them to read. Often students will get to chapter three (Proteus) and give up as the effort of deciphering the text becomes too much. On the other hand, students who continue with the text despite its difficulty experience a phenomenal sense of achievement when they finish it. In many cases, students see it as a badge of honour having successfully read one of the most difficult texts in the English language. Equally, students and readers who finish the text often see their achievement as a badge of cultural capital placing them in a small and select cultural group that share a common interest.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that Ulysses is a most difficult read and students often ask the question: “How can I successfully complete this book?” There is no one correct answer to this however, readers can utilise a series of qualities and strategies that can use to help them complete Ulysses. Patience is a virtue but in the case of Ulysses, it is a necessity for any reader who wishes to finish the book. The text is difficult and readers need to be patient in terms of completing it. Furthermore, understanding a text is a core objective for most readers however; in the case of Ulysses, most readers on initial reading will not fully understand the text. It is important for readers to be comfortable with this and instead focus on taking what they can from the text and this will certainly help them to finish the text. It is extremely wise for reader not to confuse the author with the text. The narrator in a text does not necessarily represent the author. However, most creative writers will draw on personal experiences, cultural and historical contexts in forming their narratives. It is reasonable to argue that James Joyce was no different in this regard. Therefore, readers who have an adequate knowledge of Joyce’s biography will have a better chance of understanding the text. Read! Read! Read! Certainly, a well-informed reader will have a much better chance of understanding Ulysses than a less well read individual. Because of Joyce’s myriad of textual allusions, a more sophisticated reader will be able to notice the multitude of references that Joyce makes throughout Ulysses. On a practical level, having a dictionary close to hand is useful when reading Ulysses as the reader can use it to look up the many difficult and unusual words that Joyce uses in his text. Finally, take time reading Ulysses. If the reader is under a time constraint, they will certainly struggle to complete the text. Instead, take plenty of breaks while reading it as the time away from the book will help to clear the readers head giving them a fresh perspective when they return to it.

Lastly, and most importantly, try to enjoy perhaps the greatest book in the English language and share in the tremendous sense of achievement that fellow readers garner from finishing Ulysses

~Pádraig Ó Loingsigh

Last Day to Submit!

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Last day to submit your poems, fiction, non-fiction, and artwork to The Ogham Stone.

Remember, submit your work to oghamstoneul@gmail.com and visit our submission pages for the details.

https://theoghamstoneul.wordpress.com/submit/

Come on–Less than 24 hours left!

Listening vs Reading: The Rise of Audiobooks

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In our house, we’re well-versed in the world of audiobooks as they saved our family holidays.

I love to read books (well, duh) but my husband doesn’t.  He just never really got into it – his boredom threshold falls around the size of the average newspaper article, which he reads in abundance.  Essentially, his digitally-trained brain can’t cope having to read 100,000 words before finding out ‘the point’.

My favourite thing to do on holiday is to find a beautiful view and a comfortable seat and settle down with a great book.  On our first holiday together I found myself unable to get past a single paragraph without being asked how it was going / did I see the kid with the ball / was I too hot.

And so we discovered many years ago that this was a problem we would have to overcome or I was going to drown him in his holiday beer.

The solution? Audiobooks.  I downloaded books I thought he would like (Wolf of Wall Street was a big hit, followed by biographies of Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs), charged up his Iphone and let him off

The only problem is that audiobooks are rather expensive.  Roughly €20-30 each, which is understandable when you consider the book’s value in itself, with added production and narration costs.  Enter Audible.com, which sounds rather convoluted but is in effect, a subscription service.  You pay a monthly fee and depending on which tier you’re on, you get at least one book a month.

The only downside for me is the lack of learning.  As I’ve barely a toe on the first rung of a writing career, I like to read great writing so that I can learn from it and hopefully imbue a tiny droplet of those writers’ talents into my own work.  I do feel that listening rather than reading impacts this, as I can’t fully appreciate the structure, the language, the skill.

I find I most value audiobooks when travelling.  I get terribly car-sick so have never been able to read in the car or on a bus.  Now, however, a journey to Dublin equals at least six or seven chapters.  And, when flying, they’re good to block out at least 90% of the ear-torture inflicted by the relentless purveyors of scratchcards, perfumes and bus tickets. Which is always a good thing.

So for now, I think I’ll stick to mixing it up, listening and reading. What about you, have you given audio-books a try?

~RM Kealy

Colum McCann Update!

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Because of strong interest we have moved our guest speaker, Colum McCann, into a larger venue for the public interview at UL this coming Wednesday, 5th November, at 5 pm.

It will now be taking place in Lecture Theatre KBG 12 in the Kemmy Business School. We hope to start promptly at 5 pm. All are welcome. Come if you can. Bring a friend or colleague. A reception will follow the interview.

Hope to see you all there!

Colum McCann Due to Visit UL

81FuRfDpc+L._SL1500_Creative Writing at UL and Narrative 4 present

IMPAC AWARD-WINNING NOVELIST

COLUM McCANN

Author of Let the Great World Spin

INTRODUCING NARRATIVE 4 IRELAND

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

5pm – 6pm

Millstream Common Room, University of Limerick

with

JOSEPH O’CONNOR: UL Frank McCourt Chair in Creative Writing and Honorary Member, N4

Narrative 4 (N4) is a global organisation that fosters empathy by breaking down barriers and shattering stereotypes through the exchange of stories. Headed by the world’s most influential artists, educators, students and community advocates, N4 is committed to developing the next generation of empathetic leaders and citizens.

Originally founded by over 100 writers from around the world, including Michael Ondaatje, Gabriel Byrne, Ian McEwan, Sting, Chimamanda Adichie, Michael Cunningham and Edna O’Brien. The organisation is based on the simple idea that by knowing the story of another, we are able to better understand each other. When listening to stories, we suspend argument, engage our emotions, and, walking in the shoes of another, experience compassion.

N4 currently promotes stories as an agent of change and a framework for understanding by:

  • Creating a working arts leadership network by regularly convening a diverse group of authors and other advisors who are leaders in their field to exchange ideas
  • Offering N4 designed and supported accreditation workshops in order to effectively roll out the Narrative 4 model internationally
  • Presenting story-based art experiences direct to the public(during literary festivals, author events, writing workshops, songwriter performances, and more)
  • Partnering with N4 advisors, community leaders and humanistic organizations from around the world to create a “boomerang” effect, presenting their work to audiences everywhere, while extending the work of N4 to their communities

Please join us for a reception and public interview with Colum McCann at the Millstream Common Room, University of Limerick, Wednesday November 5th, 5 pm – 6 pm.  [rsvp to claire.ryan@ul.ie by Monday 3rd November]

Flash Fiction Wanted

flash-fictionDon’t forget that our editors here at The Ogham Stone are interested in all types of great writing, and they know that sometimes the best things come in the smallest packages.

Made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s short-short story ‘For sale: Baby shoes, never worn’, flash fiction is increasingly popular, with thousands of national and international competitions each year. The concept is about maximising the impact while minimising the word count, and it can make for some powerful fiction.

Can you tell a great story in just 250 words? Do you have a short and sharp piece of fiction in your portfolio?

If so, submit your piece to us before the deadline of November 2nd. Check out our submissions page for all the details: https://theoghamstoneul.wordpress.com/submit/

Go on…flash your fiction in our direction!