Critic Martin Esslin coined the term theatre of the absurd in 1961 to define a form of theatre which ,rejecting naturalism as the basis for it’s presentation of action & character, uses a variety of dramatic techniques defying rational analysis & explanation to express. ,by implication rather than direct statement, the absurdity of human conditions ;Esslin adopts & expands the concept of the absurd employed by the existentialist Albert Camus in LE MYTHE DE SISPHE in 1942.
The absurd is not so much a single , identifiable theatrical tradition as a common denominator to be found in the work of a number of 20th century dramatists.They are individually indebted to a variety of independent traditions & the circus. Some elements of the absurd may be traced back to Alfred Jerry & found in the plays by Cocteau & Ivan Goll written in the 1920’s & 30’s; but the term is usually associated with writers who were active after World War II, notably Samual Backett ,Eugene ,N.F Simpsom ,harold Pinter etc.
In it’s rejection of rational & analytical processes, the genere has some affinities with Theater of cruelty.
Source:M.Esslin , The theatre of absurd 1968. & 69.