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Existentialism and Theatre Existentialism is a concept that became popular during the second World War in France and just after it French playrights have often used the stage to express their views and these views came to surface even during a Nazi occupation Bernard Shaw got his play Saint Joan past the German censors because it appeared to be very Anti-British French audiences however immediately understood the real meaning of the play and replaced the British with the Germans Those sorts of hidden meanings were common throughout the period so that plays would be able to pass censorship Existentialism proposes that man is full of anxiety and despair with no meaning in his life just simply existing until he made decisive choice about his own future That is the way to achieve dignity as a human being Existentialists felt that adopting a social or political cause was one way of giving purpose to a life Sartre is well known for the Theatre engage or Theatre committed which is supposedly committed to social andor political action One of the major playwrights during this period was Jean-Paul Sartre Sartre had been imprisoned in Germany in 1940 but managed to escape and become one of the leaders of the Existential movement Other popular playwrights were Albert Camus and Jean Anouilh Just like Anouilh Camus accidentally became the spokesman for the French Underground when he wrote his famous essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe or The Myth of Sisyphus Sisyphus was the man condemned by the gods to roll a rock to the top of a mountain only to have it roll back down again For Camus this related heavily to everyday life and he saw Sisyphus an absurd hero with a
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