Rhinoceros is absurd and wild

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It should come as no surprise perhaps to know that a group of rhinoceros (or is that rhinoceri?) is actually known as a ‘crash’, a descriptor that seems somehow suited to Eugene Ionesco’s 1959 play Rhinoceros, set to play UBC’s Chan Centre this month.

Theatre at UBC presents Rhinoceros. Photo by Tim Matheson.Based on Ionesco’s own experiences in Romania that inspired him to oppose conformism and totalitarianism, his absurdist play tells the story of the inhabitants of a small French town who turn into rhinoceroses (photo right by Tim Matheson).  An allegory for the rise of Nazism leading up to World War II, it may also describe director Chelsea Haberlin, whose work with ITSAZAOO Productions is anything but conformist as well.

Haberlin in her final year of her MFA in Directing at UBC, helms the production that includes a cast of twenty-two.  Among that cast is Alen Dominguez who plays Dudard, one of the last characters to transform into one of the horned beasts.

“Dudard’s journey is quite clear,” says Dominguez who is in his own final year of the UBC acting program.  “He goes from being neutral about the transformations happening around him, but things happen and he believes that if you want to cure something you have to be part of it.”

Despite the absurdity of the text, the circumstances and even some of the production elements that Dominguez says Haberlin has chosen, the balance to the absurdity comes by making his character real.

“Despite the absurd things happening around them they are still human beings and despite the situations that my character are put in he is still real person,” explains Dominguez.

It is in that reality that Dominguez hopes the audience will find their way through the play in what he says is a “wild show”.

24 January – 9 February 2013
Studio Theatre, Chan Centre, UBC

What do you do when everyone around you is turning into a rhinoceros? Eugène Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece follows a tragic everyman called Berenger, who must navigate the chaos in his small French village as the townsfolk are transformed into stampeding pachyderms. As bipeds become an ever-smaller minority, what will it take for him to stand up to the increasing menace of rhinocerisation? Visit http://www.theatre.ubc.ca for tickets and information.

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