Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emerged in the 20th century, emphasizing individual freedom and choice, and the inherent meaninglessness of human life. It has had a profound impact on various fields, including literature, art, and theatre. In this article, we will explore what existentialism theatre is all about.

What is Existentialism?

Existentialism is a philosophical approach that emphasizes individual freedom and choice. It posits that humans are free to create their own meaning in life because existence precedes essence. This means that there is no inherent purpose or meaning to human life; it is up to individuals to create their own.

Existentialism in Theatre

Existentialism has had a profound impact on theatre since the mid-20th century. Existentialist theatre emphasizes the fundamental isolation of human beings and their inability to communicate with each other effectively. It also explores themes such as death, despair, anxiety, and dread.

Theatre of the Absurd

One of the most well-known forms of existentialist theatre is the Theatre of the Absurd. This type of theatre emerged in France during the 1950s and 1960s and was characterized by its rejection of traditional plot structures and character development.

Theatre of the Absurd plays often feature nonsensical dialogue, illogical situations, and characters who are trapped in meaningless existence. The plays often evoke a sense of existential dread, highlighting the absurdity and futility of human existence.

Examples of Existentialist Plays

Some examples of plays that embody existentialist themes include Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit,” Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party,” Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” and Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story.”

These plays all feature characters who are grappling with their own mortality and their place in the world. They often explore themes such as the meaninglessness of life, the difficulty of communication, and the inevitability of death.


Existentialism theatre is a fascinating and thought-provoking genre that explores some of the most fundamental questions of human existence. Through its emphasis on individual freedom and choice, it challenges audiences to consider their own lives and what it means to be human. Whether you’re a fan of Theatre of the Absurd or more traditional plays with existentialist themes, there is something for everyone in this rich and complex genre.