Concordia St. Paul performed a play called Rhinoceros from February 16-19. Rhinoceros was written by Eugene Ionesco in 1959 in France. Ionesco was writing Rhinoceros as a response to World War II in Europe, but Concordia students took on the absurd play and absorbed it into their own world, seemingly turning into the characters. The play was performed “in the round” completely surrounding the actors and stage, allowing the audience to watch each other watch the play, interact/connect through watching, and get a more connected relationship to the performers. The play begins on a Sunday morning in a small French town square. It starts out lighthearted and humorous as the restaurant waiters and two friends argue. A rhinoceros is seen running through the small square and the scenes get more intense as the play continues. Throughout the play, more and more people conform to becoming a rhinoceros, which relates to the idea that people conform to a society even though they do not want to. As the actors transform into rhinoceroses they keep their same costumes, but they wear a wire rhinoceros shaped helmet that was inspired by Pablo Picasso. Every scene contained humorous jokes that kept the play lighthearted until the end where the intensity heightened (as the director explained it, “when the scene drops off”). After the play on Saturday the director and actors stayed after to have a talk about the play. It was very interesting to get the audience’s ideas, the actors’ ideas, and that director’s perspective of the play.
The main character, Bérenger, was the only character to say where he was at and how he felt throughout the play, like when he randomly said he was hungry during the fire at his job. No one listened to him and Jean tried to tell him to act and behave. African American people are very marginalized. This is not new to society. We learned in Honors that people of color are marginalized, are oppressed, and do not have the same opportunities as white people in education, financial status, and opportunities. The idea of people conforming to the rhinoceroses in the play is similar to the way people of color may have to conform to the white lifestyle to gain a better education, a job, and to be more accepted by white people. Since white people are the majority and have power, they run society and have white privilege. So people of color have to follow, listen, and conform to how white people want them to. In Rhinoceros, Bérenger says to Mr. Dudard, “I will become one of them, but fight within.” Many people in Honors are beginning to do research about their case study and are hearing about Black Lives Matter, a movement that was created to advocate for people of color to gain equality in a number of societal structures. People of color may conform to a white society, but many fight within towards equal rights and against racism.
I loved Rhinoceros. It is probably my favorite play right now. I loved it so much that I went and saw it twice, and I even took my mom to it. The play was very interesting in that I could connect with other audience members as I watch them watch the play and I connected to the performers, gaining a close relationship to both. The actors and actresses did a great job in the play. They really got into the role and made the play so believable that it seemed like they were not even acting, but playing themselves.
In my integration portion I may be taking a stretch. I say this because I am not a person of color and I do not want to put words into other people’s mouths. Since I am not a person of color I believe it is not my place to explain how someone of color may feel. I will say that I talked to a person of color and although that person did not directly say he/she had to conform to a white society, he/she implied it.