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I had heard of Waiting for Godot, Theatre of the Absurd, and Samuel Beckett before. But only ever as names and titles, I knew that all three had influenced how theatre developed in the 20th century, and I knew that they were all a little ‘odd’.When my theatre teacher recommended it to me as a fun, educational ‘nonsense play’, I thought that I might as well, because it would be an interesting departure from the classic theatre that I would otherwise practice in school.The apparent lack of logical cohesion and any method behind it I found enthralling. Particularly so because, in my theatre pieces, I always struggled with extending a scene or notion, ensuring that it held together, and did not stay a small mention. Beckett’s clear mastery of this is what therefore made me first want to explore it in more depth.But, after further research and reflection, I realized that there was more to Waiting for Godot than the extension of one thought through an entire play, there were inner themes, philosophical questions that experts were arguing about the specifics of, to this day.That is when another part of my mind was awoken, the part that had always loved comedy sketches, stand ups, and theatre-comedy. That part of my mind looked at WFG and realized that comedy played an essential, integral role that was easily overlooked. That is why I have decided to do my Extended Essay on this subject.Research Question AnalysisRQ: What Forms of Comedy does Samuel Beckett Deploy in WFG, and how do they Contribute to the Intention of the Play.There are three main aspects of the RQ: The forms of comedy used; what they add and how; and the intention of the play. I shall therefore be splitting my exploration into three corresponding parts: What comedy means, its traditional purposes, and the different forms of comedy that would suit the intention of WFGWhat comedy adds to WFG, what it synergises with, and how it enhances the intention of WGF.And finally, what the intention of the play is, what is the conclusion the comedy is trying to enhance, and why Beckett wished to reach this conclusion, using these methods.I shall also include, in these sections, research into who Beckett was, his interests, other works, and any parallels that can be drawn between his other works and WFG, that may aid in the exploration.This essay shall limit itself to the exploration of the comedy aspects of WFG (eg. usage of Rakugo comedy techniques), discounting other aspects of the play unless specifically relevant.Relevance to Modern Theatre”Beckett is one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. We know that he influenced playwrights from Edward Albee to Harold Pinter and the African American writer, Suzan-Lori Parks, but what was the impact of Beckett’s theatre on the many directors, designers, performers, companies and venues that staged his work the length and breadth of these islands?”This is the question Professor Anna McMullan, from the University of Reading’s Department of Film, Theatre and Television, asked the world.The Beckett scholar Ruby Cohn wrote “after ‘Godot’, plots could be minimal; exposition, expendable; characters, contradictory; settings, unlocalized, and dialogue, unpredictable. Blatant farce could jostle tragedy.”Before Samuel Beckett, theatre was naturalistic, more tradition than innovation. That is why it was so poorly received by critics when it first came out, people saw it as a drastic departure from that they were used to seeing onstage. After Samuel Beckett, playwrights felt able to experiment with the intention of their piece, not to mention dable in absurdism.Intention of ExplorationI am researching comedy in WFG because I want to learn how comedy can be used in a play which has such a serious undertone (the futility of life and existence), to enhance it and make it more impactful on an audience.I also think that, by exploring how comedy affects the intention of a piece, this piece will provide elucidation about Beckett’s philosophy, and what he considered the purpose of life.BodyComedyThe word ‘comedy’ did not always mean what it means now. In the Elizabethan era it simply meant something with a happy ending or result (see Shakespearean Comedies). In the 16th century, we see humour in Commedia Dell’arte in Italy, and in Punch and judy in England. They show, respectively, laughter from a character receiving their comeuppance, and shocking audiences into laughter.This was followed, in the 19th century, by Pantomime, slapstick comedy inspired by Commedia Dell’Arte, which brought with it the first mainstream clown, Joseph Grimaldi. Clowns originated from the Court Jesters, the ones who allowed the common folk a chance to laugh at their superiors, and who were sent to deliver bad news. They were laughable characters, designed to be the butt of every joke.Then, in the 20th century, came the era of Charlie Chaplin, silent, physical comedy sketches which were broadcasted on television. Alan Bilton Silent Film Comedy and American Culture described how this genre of comedy came to be at a time of ‘social and moral transition’ in the United Stages, a way for audiences to escape from their lives. But also, more relevantly, it was ‘an expression of the American collective unconscious’.That is the path comedy followed to reach the styles Beckett would appropriate and utilise.Both clowns and silent film comedians were laughable, awkward and bumbling characters which reflected the truths of life. They took everyday events and interactions, and exaggerated them, both making them more and less true. Because they homed in on the ‘important’ aspects, but also malformed them.There are three main, generally accepted theories about comedy Morreall, John:Relief TheoryThat laughter is a biological mechanism by which psychological tension is reduced. We laugh and feel merriment because we are relieved.Superiority Theory We laugh at the misfortunes of others, because their misfortunes are a demonstration of our superiority over the unfortunate.Incongruous Juxtaposition Theory Humour is a response to a concept being observed as incongruous with reality. A paradigm shift from concept to reality. That is not to say that only one of these theories can be true, rather that these are all considered reasons behind why we find things humorous.In WFG, the latter two theories are clear sources of humour. Estragon and Vladimir are clearly pathetic characters, who are far more unfortunate than the audience, and it is from this that much of the humour is derived. Samuel BeckettSamuel Beckett was an Irish theatre practitioner in the 20th century. He was very well educated, but had a depressed youth. To counteract that, he travelled around Europe before finally settling in France, aged 20. He fought in the resistance movement during World War 2, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery. He wrote numerous short stories and playscripts, WFG being the most famous. In 1969 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but continued to write prolifically until his death, aged 83.He was one of the four most important playwrights in the movement known as ‘Theatre of the Absurd’, a form of theatre oriented around the futility of existence, and of man being an absurd figure.This was largely influenced by the philosopher Albert Camus, who, in his book ‘The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays’ wrote “Man stands face to face with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world”.His philosophy was that there is no meaning to existence and to life. But that there is an innate human tendency to seek a meaning. That is what makes man an absurd figure,