The idea for the play came to Ionesco while he was trying to learn English with the Assimil method. Impressed by the contents of the dialogues, often very sober and strange, he decided to write an absurd play named L'anglais sans peine ("English without toil"). Another working title for the play was Il pleut des chiens et des chats ("It's raining cats and dogs"). He originally wrote the play in his native Romanian, then wrote it again in French. The current title was set only after a verbal slip-up made by one of the actors during the rehearsals.
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