Impact Factor: 5.2 IJAR

Manoranjan Behura
2016 unpublished
Tom Stoppard who is a famous absurd dramatist has excelled many of his contemporaries in using metatheatre. His masterpiece 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead' is replete with metatheatrical elements. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, is thematically based on Shakespeare's Hamlet. Tactfully enough, Stoppard has made a complete transformation of a revenge tragedy called Hamlet to an absurdist play. Two insignificant characters of Shakespeare's Hamlet have been made heroes and they have
more » ... roes and they have been put into a new world where they are apparently at loss; they are thrown into a predicament which is far beyond their understanding. Like a true play of the absurdist genre, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead presents in philosophical ways man's lack of absolute values, the problem of freedom and the uncertainty of knowledge and perception. Themes of confusion, absence of identity and helplessness are the chief concerns of the characters. This paper tries to focus on how the dramatist uses various metatheatrical elements to reinforce the theme. Introduction Metatheatre The term 'metatheatre' or 'metadrama' is coined by Lionel Abel in his 'Metatheatre: A New View of Dramatic Form' in 1963. Metatheatre generally refers to 'the play within the play'. Richard Hornby defines metatheatre or metadrama as "drama about drama" (P 31). There are also other definitions, "the metatheatrical play that uses the stage as "stage to present life as theatricality has as one of its goals, an examination of the distinction between art and life. This is the type of play about playing, about theatricality, about the human impulse to create fiction and revise reality."(Understanding Play by Millie Barranger) A metatheatrical play does not present life as it exactly is, on the contrary, it may present actions that are alien, stylised or absurd to distant audience from the theatrical illusion on the stage. These metatheatrical plays intend to demarcate the boundary that conventional theatre tries to hide and it constantly reminds the audience about the relationship between performance and reality. Metatheatre is a medium between art and life. The meta-Greek prefix means "beside, beyond, after, transcending". Thus metadrama or metatheatre means to use other elements on stage than the story itself. These elements sometimes or most often help to develop the story, provide an intrinsic thought to the story and to the art of the theatre itself. Metadrama produces extraordinary aesthetic insights, which have been spoken of as 'estrangement' or alienation. Hornby listed four types of conscious metatheatre which sometimes overlap with one another:
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