“Rhinoceros” touches on lack of individuality

The next University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance production, “Rhinoceros” hit the Buchanan Center for Performing Arts stage on Tuesday and continues to be performed until Sunday afternoon.

Directed by UW Professor Patrick Konesko, “Rhinoceros” explores the consequence of radical social conformity, logic of nature and self-delusion. The style of the play was meant to address and face the harsh truths of never getting away from a widespread violence regardless of one’s hopes, dreams and good intentions.

“Rhinoceros is considered part of ‘Theatre of the Absurd,’” Konesko said. “This movement was coined in 1960/61 by a critic named Martin Esslin in an attempt to categorize a number of post war playwrights who engaged in radical departures of style.”

“Rhinoceros” opens up with cafe scene introducing a good chunk of the characters, including the main characters of Berenger, a drunk trying to turn his life around, and his good friend Jean. While Jean is criticizing Berenger about his lifestyle, a rhinoceros runs down the street making Berenger, Jean and all the others drop what they are doing to observe and elaborate on what they just saw. This is when life starts to change for the town, characters, and most importantly, Berenger.

Konesko brought “Rhinoceros” back to the stage since its last performance at UW in 1968 for a couple reasons, one being tradition. Not only is the production a traditional performance movement and style, but also as a UW tradition, considering it was done 50 years ago.

“The other major reason that I wanted to produce this play was because of our current political climate and the way in which our chosen media ‘bubbles’ serve to strip away our agency and individuality,” Konesko said. “I think that we oftentimes end up parroting a specific point of view held by our preferred news stations, politicians, etc. and, as a result, we disregard the necessity of conducting our own research to verify such information.”

For senior Baily Patterson, who has been in three UW productions, playing the role of Jean and “Rhinoceros” was one of the more challenging productions for several reasons.

“Every aspect of the production was given a great amount of detail; from the movement intensive rehearsals for the actors, to the aluminum welding for the rhino masks done in the shop, from the design of an entirely steal set, to a 15 minute pre-show with its own soundscape” Patterson said.

Patterson’s role, Jean, an arrogant character who is consumed with keeping his high status and will-power, is traditionally played by a male. Patterson naturally gravitated towards Jean after reading the script and auditioned for the role regardless of her gender.

“I am very thankful to my directors, Patrick Konesko and Jared Mohr-Leiva, for even considering x-gender casting,” Patterson said. “It is because of their open mindedness that I have been able to take part in such an incredible show and challenge myself as a performer.”

“Rhinoceros” will run tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday performance will take place at 2 p.m. in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Thrust Theatre. Tickets cost $14 for the public, $11 for senior citizens and $7 for students.

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