“Rhinoceros” explores new terrain

Sophie Karrow

In light of the political turmoil in today’s society, director and English teacher Demetrios Pappageorge chose “Rhinoceros” by Eugene Ionesco for its commentary on society’s inability to listen.
The play follows an abstract storyline that deals with the human tendencies of greed and vanity. It follows a young man, Berenger, and the occurrence of bizarre events in the town he lives in. He watches as those around him turn into rhinos.

Pappageorge wanted to make sure that the play he chose was a reflection of society’s current state.
“When choosing plays, we try to choose literature that is relevant and that contains a unique challenge for our actors and tech. I wanted to address our current political landscape in this country. It just took time to pick the right vehicle,” Pappageorge said.

Pappageorge hopes that the audience realizes the relevance of “Rhinoceros”. The play parallels several of the difficulties taking place politically. Pappageorge feels that one of our biggest issues in today’s society is that people fail to acknowledge other people’s points of views.

“We have a lack of civility that has been rising for a number of years that has reached an unprecedented level. People lack communication because they are afraid of confrontation. The audience will get Eugene Ionesco’s illustration of what society looks like when communication and respect go out the window,” Pappageorge said.

The play’s prose can be difficult to understand and convey at times according to Pappageorge, so he hopes the play will challenge both the actors and the cast. Junior Marion Deal plays Dudard, a character who is crucial to the show’s love interest and development of plot.

“By addressing the spread of the conniving emotion and the way it infiltrates seemingly stolid and self-possessed folk via the relatively ‘safe’ and ‘controlled’ means of art, we can examine hatred’s causes and effects and concoct better ways to combat it on both the personal and political stage,” Deal said in an email interview.

Professional theaters have moved towards being safe places where all roles are gender fluid. So Pappageorge made the decision to cast the play gender blind. A previous play at DGN, “Hamlet,” was cast this way.

Pappageorge says it was even more of a success than if they had stuck to traditional casting methods.

“Many theatres have moved to a safe place where the genders of roles is fluid. The goal is to tell the story using the best performers as possible,” Pappageorge said.

Deal is a female cast as a male. Sophomore Billy Berberich, a male cast as a female, plays Mrs. Beouf.

“I am fascinated and elated by this choice in casting. The character that I play is traditionally portrayed as male, but I hope to breathe a different life into them and make Dudard a female character,” Deal said. “This choice will layer ideas of gender bias and homosexuality that are worthy of consideration and are certainly relevant as originally reflected in the spread of irrational fear in 1940s France to the 21st.”

Other primary roles include Kyle Schirle as Berenger, Liam Johnson as Jean and Isabelle LaBianco as Daisy. It will be performed Oct. 26, 27 and 28.