Stampeding rhinoceros will crash their way through The Colony’s Lakeside Community Theatre (LCT) starting on April 21, and it’s going to be hilarious. Don’t worry; these rhinos won’t be the wild, untamed kind – at least not yet. Instead, they’ll start as everyday people before they’re unexpectedly transformed into raging beasts.
If all of that sounds absurd, you’re on the right track. “Rhinoceros” is an allegorical play about the dangers of fascism written by Eugene Ionesco in 1959. It centers around a small town slowly transforming into the show’s namesake animals with a bewildered lead character stuck in the middle of it all. The play, a hallmark of the mid-20th century Theater of the Absurd, centers around a small town transforming into the show’s namesake animals with a bewildered lead character stuck in the middle of it all.
“It is a show that modern audiences are going to have to stretch a little bit to get it because there’s lots of allegory, but I think they will,” “Rhinoceros” Director Dale Moon said. “It’s actually a really fun play. It’s broad, and it’s very funny.”
Moon pointed to the rapid-fire dialogue, quick pace and artistic interpretation of the rhino transformations as some of the play’s most fun and exciting elements. He noted that he took inspiration for this production from aspects of the Bread and Puppet Theater. The northeast-based organization is a politically charged theater group that became known for anti-war protest performances and the use of large, oversized puppetry in their productions.
“I love that image of something that’s oversized and not realistic, and that’s what I’m going with for this show without giving away too much,” Moon said. “I think people will be really kind of amazed at what we’re going to do. The actors are really, really into it.”
Moon explained that he felt it was important to cast actors who shared his enthusiasm for crafting the story and were willing to dive deep into their characters, including their rhino transformations.
“All of the characters in the show, even the named ones, are kind of types: the grocer, the housewife, the waiter. They’re just archetypes,” Moon said. He therefore asked the actors to come up with what they personally felt their characters looked like and represented. As a result, Moon said he let the cast essentially create their own costumes and bring insights from their own experiences and lives into their roles.
“It works because I want it to be universal,” Moon said, adding that he didn’t cast along the gender or sexuality lines of the original production either. Instead, he focused on the actors themselves in relation to their fit with the character and “what they can bring to it.”
“I think that people will see it, and hopefully they will get out of it that these are universal people,” Moon said, pointing out that the setting is similarly ambiguous in nature in his production. He explained that his goal is more to show a universal peace between the cast. “They’re all living (together), and everyone is fine with each other. There’s no problem. Life is great until the rhinoceros start to show up, and then things start to fall apart.”
Speaking of the rhinoceros transformations, Moon said the production has been working with a choreographer and movement specialist to help the cast members who transform to “find their rhinos.”
“That’s been a lot of fun doing that,” Moon said, describing how the actors have really thrown themselves into their rhinoceros roles. He believes audiences will similarly enjoy the more fantastical components of the productions.
“They’ll have a good time with it, but they’re going to get the point because the whole concept of the show is something is going on out in the world, and we’re not paying attention to it, or we’re just accepting it,” Moon said, detailing how people will be able to see some connection to an issue close to them reflected in the play’s messaging considering how many hot-button topics are in the world today. “Everyone’s starting to turn into rhinoceroses. It could be anything; it just happens to be rhinoceroses. So, there’s a lot to be said for what’s going on politically, what’s going on socially. These things are just happening, and people are either not engaged intentionally, or they’re just ignoring it.”
Moon and the Lakeside Community Theatre’s production of “Rhinoceros” will open on April 21. The theatre has scheduled subsequent performances for April 22 and 29, as well as May 5, before closing with a pair of performances at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on May 6. Tickets are $20 before fees for general admission and $17 before fees for LCT members, students and seniors 62-and-up. Head to https://www.lctthecolony.com/ to learn more and purchase tickets.