The Bald Soprano was Eugene Ionesco's first play, performed in 1950 at the Th (c) tre des Noctambules. At the time, Ionesco had been learning to speak English by copying sentences from an English primer. As he copied the simple phrases over and over again, the absurdity of language struck him. He translated this experience into The Bald Soprano, which satirizes the deadliness and idiocy of the daily life of a bourgeois society frozen in meaningless formalities. The Bald Soprano had a 1987 production in New York City, a production with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in 2007, and an Off-Broadway production in the spring of 2009 with the One Year Lease theatre ensemble.
In The Chairs, the Old Man and Old Woman are setting up chairs in anticipation of the arrival of a series of guests who are coming to hear an orator reveal the old man's discovery of the meaning of life. Once the couple has convinced themselves that a crowd is assembled (when in fact there are only empty chairs) the evening progresses to a frantic, menacing climax. The Chairs was first produced in 1952 at the Th (c) tre Lancry. After receiving a 1997 London production, The Chairs returned to Broadway in 1998 and garnered five Tony nominations.
Eugene Ionesco, 1912-1994, is one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. The son of a Romanian father and a French mother, he settled in France and eared his living as a proofreader for publishers, coming to playwriting almost by chance. Having decided to learn English, he was struck by the emptiness of the cliches of daily conversation that appeared in his phrase book. Out of such nonsensical sentences he constructed his first play, The Bald Soprano (1950; Eng. trans., 1958). Greatly surprised by the success of the play, Ionesco embarked on a career as a writer of what he called 'anti-plays', which characteristically combine a dream or nightmare atmosphere with grotesque, bizarre, and whimsical humor. His work includes The Lesson (1951), The Killers (1958), Rhinoceros (1959), Exit the King (1962), Notes and Counternotes (1962), A Stroll in the Air (1963), Hunger and Thirst (1964), Fragments of a Journal (1966), Journeys Among the Dead (1980), theoretical writings, and the novel Le Solitaire (1973).